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As Congress and presidential candidates trade accusations over immigration reform, advocates and experts urge caution in spreading misinformation; Alabama takes new action IVF policy following controversial court decision; and central states urge caution with wildfires brewing.

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University presidents testify on rise of antisemitism on college campuses

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Wednesday, December 6, 2023   

College presidents testified before a congressional committee Tuesday on the rise of antisemitism on college campuses since the Oct. 7 Hamas-led attack on Israel.

Colleges have become a hotbed of protest over Israel's counterattack on Gaza, which has killed more than 15,000 Palestinians.

Claudine Gay, president of Harvard University, said her focus has been to confront hate while protecting free expression, even of views considered offensive.

"But when that expression crosses into conduct that violates our policies around bullying, harassment, intimidation, threats; we take action," Gay stressed.

Gay pointed out Harvard has made it easier to report threats against Jewish, Muslim or Arab students on campus or online, increased mental health services and created spaces for all students and staff to process the ongoing conflict in the Middle East.

Congressional members questioned the college presidents over the intellectual diversity of their teaching staff, allowing campus speakers with anti-Israeli views, and recent disciplinary actions for students.

Sally Kornbluth, president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said faculty are working to help students understand the full history of the Holocaust and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and ensure students have the tools needed to discuss these histories with one another.

"We have to move beyond formal training, which we are committed to, but to actual real dialogue and to actually model constructive and civil dialogue for our students," Kornbluth explained. "That's what being in university is all about."

While the college presidents were grilled by lawmakers from both parties, House Democrats noted Republicans have proposed cuts to the Department of Education's Civil Rights Office, which investigates incidents of antisemitism.


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