Balancing Academic Independence: Beyond Congressional Oversight
The scene was deeply troubling. Hundreds of college students proclaimed that Hamas’ October 7, 2023, assault on Israeli civilians was a heroic and justified act of liberation. It confirmed a level of ignorance engendered by decades of decay in our colleges and universities. But equally troubling is the fact that the United States Congress immediately intervened. If there is any social institution, along with religion, that should be insulated from political meddling, it is higher education.
Not long after October 7, the presidents of three of America’s most prominent universities were called onto the Congressional carpet by the House Committee on Education and the Workforce. When asked to explain their failure to condemn Hamas’ atrocities, all three offered what has been widely panned as evasive and inadequate responses. On December 13, the House of Representatives adopted House Resolution 927, “Condemning antisemitism on University campuses and the testimony of the University Presidents.” The resolution was approved in a 303-126 vote, with 84 Democrats and 219 Republicans in favor. The resolution condemned the presidents by name and called for their resignation.