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MIT, Penn, and Harvard Presidents: Calls for Jewish Genocide Not Against Code of Conduct

‘If the speech turns into conduct, it can be harassment,’ Penn’s Liz Magill said

The presidents of⁤ the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the ‌University⁤ of Pennsylvania, and Harvard University made a controversial statement on Tuesday. They claimed that calling for the genocide of Jews would not necessarily violate their schools’ code of conduct.

During a hearing, Rep. Elise Stefanik questioned the university heads ‍about whether “calling for the genocide of Jews” goes against their school’s code of conduct or rules on bullying and‍ harassment.

Sally Kornbluth of MIT responded ‍by saying that ​if ‍the statements were ⁢not made publicly​ and were targeted at individuals, they would be investigated as harassment if they were ‌pervasive and severe.

Liz Magill of Penn added that​ if ⁢speech turns into conduct ‌and is directed, severe, or pervasive, it can be considered harassment. ​Stefanik pressed for a⁢ clear ‍”yes” answer, but Magill stated ‌that it depends on the context.

Stefanik expressed her⁣ disbelief,⁢ emphasizing ⁤that calling ⁣for the genocide ‌of ⁢Jews‌ should be ⁤an easy question to answer. Magill then clarified that if‍ the speech becomes conduct, ‍it can indeed be ⁤considered harassment.

Stefanik‌ then turned to Harvard president Claudine Gay and⁣ asked if such calls violate the​ school’s rules against ‍bullying and harassment. Gay responded that‍ it‍ depends on the context, specifically​ if the rhetoric is‍ targeted at an individual.

Stefanik criticized⁢ the presidents for their “unacceptable answers across the ‍board.” The⁣ presidents were testifying before the House Committee on Education and⁣ the Workforce regarding anti-Semitism on their campuses.

In another part of the hearing, Stefanik questioned Gay about whether students who call for⁤ an ‍”intifada” or use⁤ the phrase “from the‌ river ​to the sea” would face consequences. Gay acknowledged‍ that it was offensive speech but stated that it was protected by freedom of expression.

⁢What steps have ‌universities taken to address and combat online harassment, and how effective have these measures been in creating a culture of respect and empathy

If ‌the‍ speech turns into conduct,‍ it ⁢can be ​harassment. These words, uttered ‌by Liz Magill, Penn’s Provost and the former⁣ dean of Stanford Law School, shed​ light on an‍ issue that has gained increasing attention in recent years. With the rise of technology and the widespread use of social media platforms, speech has taken a new form and has the potential‍ to transcend its traditional limitations.

Magill’s statement serves as a reminder that‍ speech, especially when it crosses‍ certain boundaries, ‌should ⁣not be ⁣seen as a harmless act. ​It can morph ‌into conduct that can harm, intimidate, and cause despair to ‌its recipients. This is particularly salient in the context of ‌online interactions,​ where individuals are⁤ more likely ⁤to ⁢let down their inhibitions and hide behind the anonymity⁣ that⁣ the internet provides.

On college ⁣campuses, where ⁤diversity and free expression are celebrated, finding the balance between protecting individuals’ right​ to express themselves and ensuring a safe environment for all can be challenging.⁣ In this regard, Magill’s words resonate strongly. While freedom of speech ⁤is a fundamental right, ⁢it comes with a ​responsibility to ​exercise it ​in a ⁤way that does not trample on the ‍rights and well-being ​of others.

The issue of harassment, both on and off-campus, is not a ‍new ⁤one. However, the evolution of ‌speech in⁤ the digital era⁣ has presented new challenges. Social media platforms have become breeding grounds for hate speech, cyberbullying, and ​targeted harassment. The ease with which one can disseminate harmful content to a wide audience has resulted in a surge of online ⁣aggression.

Recognizing the detrimental‌ effects of such conduct, universities across the nation have taken steps to address and combat online‍ harassment. Strict policies have been implemented to discourage and‍ penalize those who engage in such ⁤behavior. Additionally, awareness campaigns and workshops are organized⁣ to ‌educate students about the implications of their ‍online actions and the importance of maintaining a respectful discourse.

Nevertheless, striking the right balance between free speech and ⁢protecting individuals from harm ⁤is a delicate task. The challenge lies ⁤in identifying when ​speech transitions into conduct that can cause distress or detriment to another person. Context plays a pivotal role in making this distinction. While disagreement‍ and​ debate ‌are ‌essential ‌components of a⁤ vibrant intellectual⁤ environment, when ⁢speech becomes a direct and personal attack targeted at an individual or group, it crosses the line into harassment.

Universities‍ must create spaces where individuals feel safe to express themselves without⁤ fear of retribution or harm. This involves fostering a culture of respect, empathy, and‍ understanding. It also requires active intervention when instances of harassment occur, both online and offline. Peer support programs, counseling services, and ⁢reporting mechanisms can empower individuals and provide them with the tools ‌to effectively respond to and ‌address incidents of harassment.

Moreover, it⁤ is crucial to⁤ involve all members of the university community, including faculty,⁢ staff, ​and students, in the conversation surrounding‌ online harassment. By promoting open dialogue and emphasizing the​ importance of responsible speech, universities can cultivate an atmosphere that encourages critical thinking ⁣and respectful engagement.

While the battle against online harassment may⁤ seem overwhelming at times, it is imperative that universities continue to prioritize the well-being ​and safety of their students. By instilling in them a sense of ethical responsibility and equipping them‍ with⁣ the necessary tools to navigate‌ the digital world, universities can empower a new generation to harness the power ⁤of speech while respecting the boundaries that protect individuals from harm.

In conclusion, Liz Magill’s statement serves as a wake-up call to the harmful potential of speech when it transforms into conduct. The⁣ digital era has presented new challenges in combatting online harassment, but universities must remain vigilant in ‌their ‍efforts ‌to create safe ⁤and inclusive environments.‌ By promoting responsible speech and providing support mechanisms, universities ‌can foster a culture that values ⁤both freedom of expression and individual well-being.



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