University of Pennsylvania donors are withdrawing their financial support over the university’s failure to condemn as terrorism recent Hamas attacks on Israeli civilians, notes Philadelphia Inquirer columnist and Commonwealth Foundation Executive Vice President Jennifer Stefano in her recent column.
“That Hamas continues its reign of terror is not a surprise,” Stefano writes. “What is surprising is that so many leaders at elite institutions like Penn turned a blind eye for decades toward the fact that support for terroristic and anti-Western groups like Hamas was embedded in their institutions.”
[The donor letters to Penn President Liz Magill demonstrate the] apparent struggle to clarify the university’s position on antisemitism after four Penn departments sponsored a shocking number of antisemitic speakers at the Palestinian Writes festival on campus in late September, just weeks prior to the terrorist attacks in Israel. …
These Penn donors are part of a growing cadre of billionaires who are pulling their money from America’s most vaunted colleges and universities after realizing there is a moral rot in higher education.
The only surprising thing about these donors’ actions is that they seem genuinely shocked that antisemitism and anti-Western values have been normalized at America’s most elite institutions. …
…Penn is clearly failing at instilling in its students the sense of morality that goes hand in hand with a liberal arts education. (This form of liberalism, it is important to note, does not have the same meaning as the liberal-conservative typology that it’s easy to conjure with these words.)
Today, universities like Penn have upended this liberal tradition. The growing illiberalism of the American academy has given refuge to groups sympathetic to organizations like Hamas and Hezbollah. …
That Hamas continues its reign of terror is not a surprise. What is surprising is that so many leaders at elite institutions like Penn turned a blind eye for decades toward the fact that support for terroristic and anti-Western groups like Hamas was embedded in their institutions.
There is no simple reform to end decades of degradation. But the public denunciation of these immoral actions — and defunding the institutions whose leaders are party to them — is the right place to start.
You can read Stefano’s entire column here.
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