The Department of Education (ED) is investigating several elite colleges for antisemitism on campus, and they could pull funds from universities over pro-Hamas groups, though they might take an alternative route, according to multiple experts.
Cooper Union, Columbia University and the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) are all under investigation by President Joe Biden’s ED following notable antisemitic incidents on campus, as well as several other colleges, according to a press release. Several Republican politicians have called for colleges with pro-Hamas student groups to be defunded, and Republican Florida Sen. Marco Rubio has attempted to revoke the visas of pro-Hamas foreign students following pro-Hamas protests on campuses, which experts say could lead to the defunding of these colleges. (RELATED: Biden Admin Failed To Safeguard Against Fraud Before Approving Millions In Student Loan Forgiveness, Watchdog Finds)
“It’s not only the right expectation, but I think it’s a requirement for us to reevaluate, and under the circumstances in particular, I have no issue and, in fact, would encourage the removal of students who are voicing their support for the violent terrorist organizations that conducted the crimes of Oct. 7,” Robert Greenway, director of the Center for National Defense at The Heritage Foundation, told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
Federal and state terrorism laws could be used to take pro-Hamas student organizations off campus and foreign students could have their visa pulled, Greenway told the DCNF.
“A visa is not a constitutional right. It is a temporary permission for foreign nationals to visit our country. Supporting terrorism, as defined by U.S. law, disqualifies individuals from having a visa,” Rubio said in a press release.
Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration ordered two universities in Florida to remove Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) chapters from campus in October, citing their support for “terrorism.” At least two organizations sued Florida for ordering the groups removed, citing the First Amendment, according to The Associated Press.
Other GOP presidential candidates, including former President Donald Trump have said they would revoke the student visas for those defending Hamas.
“Now American Universities are allowing or enabling the open hatred against Israel and America! Instead of educating our young Americans, Deans stand idly by while subversive groups are calling for a National Day of Resistance. Not only is this antisemitic, it is also anti-American. Students have begged Deans to throw these subversive groups off campus. We banned Nazis, banned Communists, it is about time that we remove these antisemites from our schools or is the Cancel Culture only used against Conservatives?” Trump said on Truth Social.
But some say removing funding due to antisemitism might not happen, even with an investigation from ED’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR).
“It usually doesn’t come to that because it is such an extreme situation,” Brigid Harrington, a higher education attorney at Bowditch & Dewey who focuses on civil rights law and higher education, told Inside Higher Ed. “When OCR investigates the college, they typically don’t end in revoking their funding. They end with a resolution. And in the resolution, the college agrees to do what OCR recommends.”
“You’re basically punishing a lot of people in terms of the entire student body and the entire institution for what may be the actions of a handful of people,” Jonathan Fansmith, senior vice president of government relations and national engagement at the American Council on Education told Inside Higher Ed. He also said that the proposals to pull funding aren’t well-developed and that “there are better ways to pursue justice there than that as an alternative.”
Over 30 student organizations at Harvard University signed a letter supporting Palestinians after the terrorist attacks on Israel, resulting in major backlash. Other student groups at elite universities put out statements blaming Israel for the terrorist attacks, including Columbia and Yale University.
Columbia suspended two pro-Palestinian groups from campus, their SJP chapter and a Jewish Voice for Peace chapter, saying the groups had violated Columbia’s rules for student groups. Harvard, Columbia and UPenn all created antisemitism task forces following a slew of antisemitic events on their campuses.
“It’s our obligation to make schools in particular safe environments that are for studying not for protests, and certainly not protest in support of designated terrorist entities,” Greenway told the DCNF.
Harvard, Columbia, Yale and UPenn did not respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.
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