Elizabeth Magill faced backlash after failing to say that calling for genocide against Jews would violate university policy.
The president of a top university in the United States has resigned after backlash over her testimony at a congressional hearing about rising anti-Semitism on campus.
University of Pennsylvania President Elizabeth Magill resigned Saturday after facing backlash for failing to say under repeated questioning that calling for genocide against Jews would violate the school’s code of conduct.
“I am writing to inform you that President Liz Magill has voluntarily tendered her resignation as president of the University of Pennsylvania,” Scott Bok, chair of the university’s Board of Trustees, said in a statement posted on the university’s website.
Bok said Magill made “a very unfortunate misstep” in her appearance before Congress and that she was “not herself.”
Bok, who also announced his own resignation, said Magill will remain in office until an interim president is found and will remain a tenured faculty member at the university’s law school.
Magill, Harvard University President Claudine Gay and Massachusetts Institute of Technology President Sally Kornbluth came under intense criticism after appearing before a U.S. House committee on Tuesday to testify about anti-Semitism on college campuses .
Asked whether calling for genocide against the Jews would violate the university’s policies on bullying and harassment, the three university leaders declined to give a clear “yes” or “no” answer, saying they were committed to free speech and this depends on the context, such as whether the speech was directed at individuals.
Under repeated questioning by New York Republican Rep. Elise Stefanik, Magill said it was a “contextual decision” and “if speech becomes behavior, it may be harassment.”
The statement sparked calls for university leaders to resign from donors and politicians on both sides, with Pennsylvania’s Democratic governor calling Magill’s comments “absolutely shameful.”
Magill released a video Wednesday expressing regret, saying she had allowed free speech concerns to take precedence over other considerations and that she would view a call for genocide as harassment or intimidation.
Gay apologized Friday for not taking anti-Semitic rhetoric on campus more seriously, expressing regret that her words had increased “heartache and pain.”
US universities have been accused of failing to protect Jewish students from rising anti-Semitism during Israel’s Gaza war.
U.S. law enforcement officials say hate crimes against Jews and Muslims have increased significantly since the war began.
The Anti-Defamation League reported a 400 percent increase in anti-Semitic incidents in the two weeks following the October 7 attacks on Israel by the Palestinian armed group Hamas.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations said Thursday that reports of bias motivated by anti-Muslim, anti-Palestinian or anti-Arab sentiment increased 172 percent in the two months after Oct. 7.
Source : www.aljazeera.com