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GROVE: Accountability in Higher Education

“There is only one solution: Intifada revolution.” Imagine being a Jewish student at the University of Pennsylvania and hearing this chant around campus.

This isn’t a plea for peace, a cease-fire, or even a two-state solution.  It’s full-throated support of a terrorist organization, Hamas, and their goal of Jewish genocide.

Imagine then, just a short time later, the President of the college you attend says of calling for the genocide of Jews – and make no mistake, “There is only one solution: Intifada revolution” is a call for genocide – “if the speech turns into conduct, it can become harassment.”

According to CBS News, one student from Penn said: “I could not believe what I was hearing from Liz Magill and refusing to say that Jewish genocide constitutes harassment. It’s been very difficult to be a Jewish student and seeing peers and university leaders turning their backs on us.”

House Republicans are willing to lead not just with words but with action.  I, along with others, called for the resignation of President Magill after her horrific Congressional testimony.  I was pleased to see Magill’s resignation, but we cannot stop there.

At this time, given the current environment at the University of Pennsylvania, I am unwilling to provide a penny of state money to Penn.

This process started when the House returned to session this December.  House Democrats brought up funding for the University of Pennsylvania Veterinary School, which requires a 2/3 affirmative vote to pass.  Enough Republicans held the line and blocked the funding.

Unfortunately, antisemitism has been allowed to percolate at Penn for years.  Under the guise of “diversity, equity, and inclusion,” events like “Palestine Writes Literature Festival” promoted antisemitic speakers.

Why? The diversity, equity, and inclusion promoted on college campuses doesn’t include pro-Israel speakers (or conservative speakers).

The university proclaimed it will “fiercely support the free exchange of ideas,” adding, “This includes the expression of views that are controversial and even those that are incompatible with our institutional values.”

This is a curious position for Penn to take, given the credible allegations of silencing female swimmers who did not feel comfortable competing with a man.  “The university wanted us to be quiet, and they did it in a very effective way,” Paula Scanlan told the Daily Wire. “They continued to tell us that our opinions were wrong and if we had an issue about it, we were the problem.”

Pennsylvania taxpayers have funded colleges and universities owned and affiliated with the Commonwealth for too long without proper oversight.  Earlier this year, my House Republican colleagues and I withheld funding for Penn State, Pitt, Temple, and Lincoln until legislation was passed to require greater transparency by further subjecting them to the Right-to-Know Law.

The days of handing blank checks to higher education institutions are over.  We are demanding transparency and a safe campus for ALL students without trampling the First Amendment.

Free Speech is the bedrock of American freedoms.  The selected speech curated on college campuses is incompatible with the First Amendment.

Protestors are free to spew hateful slogans and display despicable signs in public spaces.  As Thomas Jefferson once said, “If we are to guard against ignorance and remain free, it is the responsibility of every American to be informed.”  It’s not the government’s job to police speech.

When that speech crosses the line to harassment, as it has at the University of Pennsylvania, we have an obligation to stop it.  Until Penn steps up and ensures a safe campus, state dollars in any form should be withheld.

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