University of Pennsylvania’s president has resigned after coming under fire for her response to antisemitism on campus, as the U.S. homes in on higher education’s response to the ongoing war between Hamas and Israel.
Elizabeth Magill stepped down on Saturday, days after she appeared before the U.S. Congress alongside other university leaders. Magill, along with Harvard President Claudine Gay and Massachusetts Institute of Technology President Sally Kornbluth, participated in a contentious, five-hour grilling from lawmakers on Tuesday over their response to antisemitism on their campuses.
They faced an intense backlash for evading a question about pro-Palestinian student protesters’ calls for “intifada” or “the genocide of Jews.”
Magill, whose position was already under pressure following her rejection of calls to cancel a planned Palestinian literary conference, saw the criticism mount after her testimony before Congress.
Magill is the first university president to step down over a response to campus antisemitism. Several lawmakers and top U.S. officials have slammed the academic leaders for refusing to say that calls for “Jewish genocide” violate their codes of conduct around bullying or harassment.
Eminent graduates, donors and public officials pushed for the university to oust Magill, the New York Times reported. In a university email, the chairman of the board, who later also resigned, said Magill had “voluntarily tendered her resignation.”
University leaders have tried to balance both free speech on campuses with worries about antisemitism. The New York Times has reported that the U.S. government has opened discrimination investigations into multiple universities in the wake of complaints about both antisemitic and anti-Muslim harassment.
Bianca Quilantan contributed to this report.
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