UPenn president resigns amid campus antisemitism controversy

(The Center Square) – University of Pennsylvania President Liz Magill resigned Saturday, just days after her testimony at a Congressional hearing in Washington, D.C., about antisemitism on campus and the university’s timid response was widely criticized.

“It has been my privilege to serve as President of this remarkable institution. It has been an honor to work with our faculty, students, staff, alumni, and community members to advance Penn’s vital missions,” Magill said in a Saturday statement.

She is expected to remain on staff at the university as a faculty member at Penn Carey Law, according to an email sent Saturday afternoon to the campus community.

Magill and other university campus presidents have faced a growing wave of criticism after allowing campus protesters to call for the genocide of Jews in response to the ongoing Israeli war against the Hamas terrorist group in Gaza.

At Wednesday’s hearing, U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y, asked the presidents of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard University whether calling for the genocide of Jews on their campuses violates their universities’ bullying and harassment policies.

“If the speech turns into conduct, it can be harassment,” Magill replied when asked specifically.

More from the back and forth between Magill and Stefanik, as The Center Square previously reported:

Stefanick repeats: “Does calling for the genocide of Jews constitute bullying or harassment?”

“If it is directed and severe and pervasive, it is harassment,” Magill replied.

“So the answer is yes,” Stefanik followed up.

“It is a context-dependent decision,” Magill replied.

“It’s a context-dependent decision, that’s your testimony today, calling for the genocide of Jews is depending upon the context? That is not bullying or harassment? This is the easiest question to answer. ‘Yes,’ Ms. Magill.”

“If the speech becomes conduct, it can be harassment,” she replied.

“Conduct, meaning committing the act of genocide? Speech is not harassment? I’m going to give you one more opportunity for the world to see your answer,” Stefanik said and repeated her question.

Magill, who smiled throughout her answers, said, “It can be harassment.”

Later Wednesday, Penn posted a video of Magill attempting to clarify her remarks.

“In that moment, I was focused on our university’s long-standing policies aligned with the U.S. Constitution which say that speech alone is not punishable,” she said. “I was not focused on, but I should have been, the irrefutable fact that a call of genocide of Jewish people is a call for some of the most terrible violence human beings can perpetrate … In my view, it would be harassment or intimidation.”

After Magill’s resignation, Penn Board of Trustees Chair Scott L. Bok also resigned.

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