Harvard Is Accused of Obstructing House Antisemitism Inquiry - The World News

Harvard Is Accused of Obstructing House Antisemitism Inquiry

A congressional committee examining campus antisemitism accused Harvard on Wednesday of obstructing its investigation, saying that the university failed to submit documents it had requested while flooding the committee with publicly available pages containing “inexplicable” redactions.

Representative Virginia Foxx, a Republican of North Carolina, said Harvard was providing a “limited and dilatory” response to her investigation of the school’s handling of alleged campus antisemitism. Ms. Foxx, chair of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, threatened to use subpoena power to force Harvard to submit more documents.

“Somehow, almost two months after the committee first informed Harvard of its intent to request production of specific documents, Harvard provided only a single meaningful document,” she wrote in a letter to the university.

Harvard said that it was cooperating with the inquiry and that it “has provided extensive information” with the eight submissions it has made so far.

“We have had frequent conversations with the committee and intend to continue responding to their requests as we receive them,” said Jason Newton, a Harvard spokesman, who added that the university plans to make another submission on Friday. “Harvard continues to combat any and every form of antisemitism on our campus. The safety and well-being of our students remains our top priority.”

The committee announced in December that it would open investigations into Harvard, the University of Pennsylvania and M.I.T. following claims that the schools failed to protect Jewish students, faculty and staff members from incidents of antisemitism.

The announcement followed a hearing in which presidents of the schools gave legalistic responses to the hypothetical question of whether calls for the genocide of Jews would be permitted on campus. Since then, both Claudine Gay, then the president of Harvard, and M. Elizabeth Magill, who was the Penn president, have resigned their posts. Sally Kornbluth of M.I.T., who answered the question more directly than Dr. Gay or Ms. Magill did, remains in her post.

The committee investigation of Harvard, as well as the obstruction claims by Ms. Foxx, have added to the ongoing conflict and uncertainty at the Ivy League school as it enters its first semester following Dr. Gay’s resignation. The university is also under investigation by the Department of Education over allegations of antisemitism and discrimination against Palestinian students.

In early January, Ms. Foxx, who in the past worked as a college administrator, wrote a letter to Harvard demanding a trove of documents in 24 specific categories. Harvard was instructed to submit most of its response by Jan. 23, according to the letter, which the committee characterized as “final demand.”

Ms. Foxx’s letter on Wednesday said she had asked for minutes or summaries of meetings in which antisemitism was discussed from three Harvard boards: the Harvard Corporation, the Harvard Board of Overseers and the Harvard Management Company.

But Ms. Foxx’s letter accused the university of falling well short of complying by submitting cursory documents from four meetings of the Harvard Corporation, the primary governing body of the university. She said three of those contained a single phrase: “discussion of recent developments on campus and the broader community related to the war in Israel and Gaza.”

A fourth document was heavily redacted, Ms. Foxx said, “with more than two of three pages of content concealed on the grounds that it ‘does not relate to antisemitism.’” That document briefly referred to a discussion by Dr. Gay on the “continuing campus impacts of the war in Israel and Gaza.”

Nothing was released from the Board of Overseers or the Harvard Management Company, Ms. Foxx wrote, adding, “It would be shocking if the Board of Overseers and Harvard Management Company thought protecting Harvard’s Jewish students was so insignificant that the topic was not worthy of discussion at a single meeting.”

Instead, according to Ms. Foxx, the university provided “more than a thousand pages of student handbooks, university rules and letters from external stakeholders” that are publicly available. “Yet these documents contained bewildering redactions, even going so far as to redact the name of the C.E.O. of the Anti-Defamation League from his signing of a public letter,” wrote Ms. Foxx.

The letter, which called the response “woefully inadequate and unacceptable,” demanded the remaining documents by Feb. 14.

A similar request for documents was sent to the University of Pennsylvania in late January. Penn’s response was due Wednesday, according to the letter. The committee said that it had yet to complete its request for information from M.I.T. and that it would broaden its inquiry to look at other schools.

Anemona Hartocollis contributed reporting.

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