Antisemitism issues at elite colleges masks 'deeper rot' of DEI dominance in higher education: WSJ editorial

Harvard, MIT, UPenn presidents faced backlash for their response to antisemitism on campus during a congressional hearing

Antisemitism exposed on college campuses across the country is just one sign of the "deeper rot" caused by anti-American and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion "DEI" policies at these universities, the Wall Street Journal warned.

During a congressional hearing on antisemitism last week, the presidents of Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and The University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) refused to say whether calls for genocide violated university rules of conduct. 

Harvard and University of Pennsylvania leaders later walked back their statements, after widespread public outrage. UPenn President Liz Magill and Board of Trustees Chair Scott Bok resigned amid the backlash.

The Journal suggested the Ivy League administrators' claim of protecting free speech was disingenuous, as Harvard and Penn ranked last in one nonprofit's survey out of 248 colleges for free speech in 2023. Thus, the public should take their shocking responses at face value.


Harvard President Claudine Gay

Harvard Pres. Claudine Gay faced backlash for her testimony before Congress over antisemitism on the college campus. (Getty Images)

"The three presidents have apologized for or moderated their comments before Congress, but that was only after the political consequences became clear. Believe what they said the first time. That is what their institutions now stand for," the editorial board wrote.

Taking steps against antisemitism won't address the "deeper rot of anti-American, anti-Western" philosophies, or the DEI policies "that use race, gender and sexuality as political weapons to enforce intellectual conformity, dictate tenure decisions, and punish dissenters," the board said.

Universities' governing boards and donors must take action to change this trend, the WSJ proposed.

"The answers must lie with boards of trustees willing to appoint presidents who will stand up to the DEI censors and require intellectual diversity among the faculty. Donors will also have to follow through on boycotting schools until they do. Too many trustees and donors are happy to settle for getting their names on buildings and their children admitted," the board wrote.


People protesting for Palestinians

Antisemitism on campus is a sign of a ‘deeper rot’ on college campuses, the WSJ said. (Photo by JOSEPH PREZIOSO/AFP via Getty Images)

The paper isn't the only one suggesting universities need to be reformed from the top down.

A retired California professor argued last week that the only way to stop university activists' destructive influence is to get them out of the classroom.

"[E]ffective reform means only one thing: getting those political activists out of the classrooms and replacing them with academic thinkers and teachers. (No, that isn’t the same as replacing left with right.)," John Ellis, professor emeritus of German literature at the University of California, Santa Cruz, proposed.

"Nothing less will do. Political activists have been converting money intended for higher education to an unauthorized use—advancing their goal of transforming America. That is tantamount to embezzlement. While we let it continue we are financing our own destruction as a society," he added.

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