New York Governor Issues Stern Warning to Universities Regarding Antisemitism

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By Carina

Governor Kathy Hochul Takes a Stand

New York Governor Kathy Hochul issued a stern warning to state colleges and universities on Saturday, emphasizing the need for strict enforcement of discrimination laws.

Her statement comes as educational institutions across the country grapple with the issue of antisemitism, particularly in the aftermath of the Israel-Hamas war.

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Controversial Testimonies from University Presidents

Governor Hochul’s letter comes on the heels of widely criticized testimonies given by the presidents of prestigious universities such as Harvard, the University of Pennsylvania, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) before Congress.

During these hearings, university leaders failed to explicitly condemn calls for the genocide of Jews as violations of campus harassment and bullying codes.

University of Pennsylvania President Resigns

In response to the mounting pressure, University of Pennsylvania President Liz Magill announced her immediate resignation on Saturday afternoon. Magill will retain her position as a tenured professor at Penn Carey Law School.

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Governor Hochul’s Direct Address

Governor Hochul’s letter was specifically addressed to the presidents of the State University of New York (SUNY) and the City University of New York (CUNY) systems.

In her letter, she expressed her shock and disappointment at the failure of university leaders to unequivocally denounce antisemitism and calls for the genocide of the Jewish people on their campuses.

Commitment to Upholding Codes of Conduct

Hochul confirmed that she had discussions with SUNY Chancellor John King and CUNY Chancellor Felix Matos Rodriguez.

Both chancellors assured her that any call for genocide against any group of people would be considered a violation of their respective university systems’ code of conduct.

Capitol Hill Controversy

During the congressional hearings, Magill, along with Claudine Gay of Harvard University and Sally Kornbluth of MIT, did not explicitly state that calls for the genocide of Jews would necessarily violate their code of conduct.

They argued that it would depend on the circumstances and conduct, which ignited further controversy over antisemitism on American college campuses.

Pressure from donors loomed large as they threatened to withdraw their support from UPenn and Harvard if the institutions failed to adequately address concerns of antisemitism on their campuses.

The Governor’s Firm Stance

Governor Hochul emphasized, “The moral lapses that were evidenced by the disgraceful answers to questions posed during this week’s congressional hearing cannot and will not be tolerated here in the state of New York.”

Hochul also cautioned that schools failing to address “antisemitism or hatred of any kind” against students based on their ethnicity or nationality would be in violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act and the New York State Human Rights Law.

Threat of Funding Cuts

“As Governor of New York, I want to reinforce that colleges and universities not in compliance with federal and state laws protecting students against discrimination can be deemed ineligible to receive state and federal funds,” she wrote.

“I assure you that if any school in New York State is found to be in violation, I will activate the State’s Division of Human Rights to take aggressive enforcement action and will refer possible Title VI violations to the federal government.”

Ongoing Investigations

The article notes that fourteen colleges and universities across the country are already under federal investigation by the Department of Education “for discrimination involving shared ancestry” since the October 7 attacks by Hamas and Israel’s subsequent strikes on Gaza.

While no SUNY or CUNY schools are on the list, the probes include three private New York institutions: Union College, Columbia University, and The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art. Additionally, New York City’s Department of Education is also being investigated.

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