Now the focus is on MIT's president: Will he resign?

Now the focus is on MIT's president: Will he resign?

(CNN) — Last month, three university presidents in the United States faced fierce backlash during congressional hearings for testimony about anti-Semitism on campuses. Today only one person retains that status.

When Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) asked in December whether “calling for genocide against Jews” amounted to campus bullying and harassment, University of Pennsylvania President Liz Magill, Harvard University President Claudine Kay, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) President Sally Kornbluth responded with opaque and legalistic responses. replied.

Magill became the focus of activists determined to oust her; He resigned after a disastrous trial. Harvard also drew criticism from the K ratings and plagiarism scandal. With Kay's resignation on Tuesday, MIT's Kornbluth is now the last of the trio to run the university, and some loud voices pushing aside Kay and Magill have signaled that they may focus on him next.

After Kay resigned, Bill Ackman, the billionaire investor, publicly and openly lobbied for Claudine Kay's ouster. Published in X “Ed to Sally?”, apparently referring to Kornbluth.

On Tuesday, when asked for comment in light of Kay's resignation, an MIT spokesman said, “The school's leadership is focused on ensuring the work of MIT.”

Mahil and Kay faced a severe backlash

After her testimony, Magill released a video apologizing, saying, “At the time, I focused on our university's long-standing principles, aligned with the United States Constitution, that state that speech alone is not punishable.”

However, Mahil faced increasing pressure from donors, Republican officials and alumni. Three days after the apology, Mahil resigned. His presidency lasted only one year.

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This week, Harvard President Claudine Kay continued.

Kay also apologized after the December hearing in an interview with the Harvard Crimson.

“I don't know how you can feel anything but sadness when words add to the agony and pain,” he said.

But calls for Kay's resignation intensified after allegations of plagiarism emerged, including several allegations of missing quotation marks and citations.

Harvard graduate Bill Ackman has been one of the loudest voices fighting back against Kay, claiming in social media posts (without evidence) that Harvard hired Kay to meet diversity requirements, a charge that Kay and Harvard deny.

However, Kay announced his resignation in an email to the Harvard community on Tuesday. He said the decision was made after consultation with Harvard's board of trustees.

Kay, the first black president and second woman in Harvard's nearly 400-year history, served just over six months, the shortest tenure in the university's history.

“It's terrifying to have my commitments to confronting hate and uphold academic rigor (two core values ​​central to who I am) questioned and subjected to personal attacks and threats fueled by racial animosity,” said K. wrote

Both Kay and Magill will be professors at their respective universities.

Pressure on Kornbluth?

Unlike the other two presidents, Kornbluth, who is Jewish, did not formally apologize after the controversial Capitol hearings. Indeed, MIT's board of directors, the MIT Corporation, quickly issued a Statement after his testimony.

sally-kornbluth-mitt

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) President Dr. Sally Kornbluth testifies before the House Education and Workforce Committee on December 5, 2023 at the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington, DC. (Kevin Deitch/Getty Images)

“He has done an outstanding job leading our community, including anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, and other forms of hatred that we absolutely reject at MIT. You have our full and unreserved support,” the statement said.

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However, after Kay's resignation on Tuesday, Kornbluth has now drawn attention to some of those who have called for the removal of two other female presidents.

Stefanik, a Harvard student, celebrated Kay's departure Publishes “Two falls” on social media, apparently referring to the resignations of Magill and Kay.

“Our robust congressional investigation will continue to move forward to expose the rot at our most 'prestigious' institutions of higher education and hold the American people accountable,” Stefanik wrote. Separate post.

However, some academics spoke of pressure campaigns that preceded Magill and Kay's resignation.

Speaking with CNN's Jake Tapper on Tuesday, Alison Frank Johnson, a professor of history at Harvard, drew parallels to the Red Scare of the 1950s, when Senator Joseph McCarthy conducted trials and prosecutions of academics, government officials and those accused of communism.

“Autonomous universities, independent of external political influence, are one of the most important elements of a thriving democracy,” the professor said. “To me, the danger here is the loss of our independent universities and a second kind of McCarthyite attack on universities and their studies based on any kind of political agenda.”

Arzu Daniel

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