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Why colleges are struggling with their response to the Israel-Hamas war

Why colleges are struggling with their response to the Israel-Hamas war


Madina Touré and Katelyn Cordero
October 21, 2023
NEW YORK — A Cornell University professor called the Hamas attacks “exhilarating” and “energizing.” A Yale professor dubbed Israel a “murderous, genocidal settler state.”
Meanwhile, top donors at the University of Pennsylvania — including former U.S. Ambassador Jon Huntsman Jr. — have pulled their financial support over charges that the institution doesn’t do enough to fight antisemitism on campus.
Similar battles are becoming commonplace on college campuses across the country amid the Israel-Hamas war, often pitting wealthy donors against college presidents and students versus staff. It has created a volatile mix that is causing indecision among administrators and highlighting long-brewing ideological splits at some of the nation’s most respected institutions.
“What has happened is we are so afraid of engaging in picking sides and it becomes too passive,” said Jim Malatras, former chancellor of the State University of New York. “What we end up with is echo chambers, which only fuels the hate. It fuels the vitriol, and you were experiencing this even before the situation that we’re dealing with.”
Some students have talked about fearing for their safety on campuses, while others — including Harvard and Columbia law students who have criticized Israel’s policies — are losing job offers.
American University Professor Lara Schwartz described efforts to limit students’ speech surrounding the war as “enormously troubling.”
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