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It turns out that antisemitism can be pretty expensive. The University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) is now facing the loss of a massive chunk of change due to its squishy approach to the issue of anti-Jewish bigotry on campus.
A major donor, Ross Stevens, has withdrawn his pledged $100 million donation intended for the creation of a center for finance innovation, in response to the university’s “permissive approach to hate speech calling for violence against Jews” and a “laissez faire attitude toward harassment and discrimination against Jewish students.”
Ross Stevens, an alumnus of the university’s Wharton School of Business and founder and CEO of Stone Ridge Asset Management, cited the college’s response to anti-Semitism, including President Liz Magill’s answers in her Tuesday testimony to Congress, in his decision to withdraw the donation, Axios reported.
“Mr. Stevens and Stone Ridge are appalled by the university’s stance on anti-Semitism on campus,” Stevens’s lawyers wrote in a letter to the university. “Its permissive approach to hate speech calling for violence against Jews and laissez-faire attitude toward harassment and discrimination against Jewish students would violate any policies of rules that prohibit harassment and discrimination based on religion, including those of Stone Ridge.”
The lawyers cited Magill’s testimony to Congress on Tuesday, in which she suggested calling for the genocide of Jews would not necessarily violate her college’s rules regarding bullying and harassment.
This move comes amid widespread concerns about the rise of antisemitism on college campuses after Hamas’ October 7 surprise attack on Israel that sparked the current war in Gaza. This controversy intensified after UPenn President Liz Magill gave testimony before Congress in which she suggested that those calling for the genocide of Jews do not necessarily violate the university’s rules regarding bullying and harassment.
When Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) asked Magill about the calls for genocide, the UPenn president noted that “it is a context-dependent decision,” and that if “the speech becomes conduct, it can be harassment.”
The situation at UPenn can be seen as a microcosm of what is happening on college campuses all over the country. Pro-Hamas students and protesters have used genocidal language in their demonstrations against Israel; their protests have become even more threatening against Jewish students on several occasions.
Stevens’ decision to revoke his donation makes sense in light of what UPenn’s leadership is allowing to spread in the university. Why would anyone wish to support an institution that displays a brazen disregard for students calling for the extermination of an entire group of people?
If this trend continues, it would not be surprising to see more wealthy individuals refusing to financially support these universities, and perhaps that is what is needed. In several cases, the anti-Israel element has successfully bullied universities whose leadership desperately seeks to avoid their ire. Unfortunately, instead of standing up for what is right, these people have acquiesced to what is politically convenient at the time. Meanwhile, Jewish students are forced to live in fear of being targeted for their identities–as antisemites continue establishing dominance over their campuses.