It’s sad it has come to this, but it’s a step in the right direction.
Citing the University of Pennsylvania’s ambivalence regarding anti-Semitism, Republicans led the state’s House of Representatives to vote to withhold more than $33 million in funding for Penn’s veterinary school, The Associated Press reported Wednesday.
The funding halt comes in the wake of the Dec. 9 resignation of the university’s president, Liz Magill, who was pressured to leave following her refusal in testimony before Congress to clearly denounce campus anti-Semitism.
Although it received simple majorities in two votes, the funding failed to receive the state constitutional requirement of a two-thirds majority, with most Republicans opposing the funding and all Democrats favoring it.
Magill’s resignation was a start, according to Republican floor leader Bryan Cutler of Lancaster, but in floor debate he said additional work needs to be done against anti-Semitism.
“Until more is done at the university in terms of rooting out, calling out and making an official stance on anti-Semitism being against the values of the university, I cannot in good conscience support this funding,” Cutler said, according to AP.
A spokesman for Cutler’s office told The Daily Pennsylvanian, the university’s student-run newspaper, that the funding cut is “not in perpetuity” and cited an “additional process now that must take place before the funding is agreed to.”
In front of Congress early this month, Magill was asked by Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-New York) for a simple yes-or-no answer to “Does calling for the genocide of Jews violate Penn’s rules or code of conduct?”
Magill replied that speech turning into conduct could be considered harassment and that the matter was “context dependent.”
Despite an apology following uproar over her comments, Magill stepped down. Meanwhile, Harvard’s president, Claudine Gay, amid making similar comments, remains in her position, garnering support from the university’s board and from faculty and students.
Regarding Penn’s funding cut, “deeply disappointed” is how Penn Vet Chief Communication Officer Martin Hackett described his response in a written statement to The Daily Pennsylvanian.
“The School of Veterinary Medicine (Penn Vet) is the sole beneficiary of these funds,” Hackett wrote. “And the school has continued to fulfill its educational and service missions to the Commonwealth in good faith throughout this six-month impasse, as it has for over 139 years.
“We hope the state House will reconsider this vote when it reconvenes in 2024.”
Given the critical mission of Penn Vet and other university efforts, the move by the legislature may seem draconian. Yet, with anti-Semitism encapsulated in pro-Palestinian advocacy on so many campuses, the funding halt is a start.
Anti-Semitism, which includes blatant physical harassment and threatening of Jews at some U.S. universities, brings into clear focus the ongoing lack of accountability by many academics quick to wrap themselves in the flag of academic freedom as they push evil causes.
Despite decades of universities mouthing “never again” to the distancing shadow of the Holocaust, recent Hamas attacks in Israel have indicated the vanity of campus criticisms of the barbarity of the 1930s and ’40s.
Thankfully, some grown-ups remain, and among them are Republicans in the Pennsylvania legislature.
Hopefully, other legislatures are paying attention and will resist the howls of censorship and anti-intellectualism as the people’s representatives step up and say: “Enough!”
After anti-Semitism, they should address issues of critical race theory; diversity, equity, and inclusion; the trashing of Western civilization; and overall censorship of thoughts not aligned with those of the commissars of academe.
But anti-Semitism needs to be the immediate focus. Some Republicans even have introduced bills in the legislature aimed at combating it at Pennsylvania state educational institutions.
No doubt state officials throughout the country will be paying close attention.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.