‘Unacceptable’: Congress subpoenas top Harvard University brass for federal probe into antisemitism

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Congress has subpoenaed top Harvard University officials, saying the prestigious Ivy League school has failed to produce requested documents for a federal probe into antisemitism at the university.

Education and the Workforce Committee Chairwoman Virginia Foxx, R-NC, served subpoenas to Harvard Corporation Senior Fellow Penny Pritzker, Interim President Dr. Alan Garber, and Harvard Management Company’s Chief Executive Officer N.P. Narvekar for “failing to produce priority documents related to the Committee’s antisemitism investigation.”

Committee officials allege that Harvard has failed “to produce 11 key areas of documentation that are intended to uncover what actions Harvard is undertaking or has undertaken to ensure Harvard Jewish students feel safe and welcome on campus.”

“I am extremely disappointed in the path that Harvard has chosen to take in the Committee’s investigation,” Foxx said in a statement on Friday. “Over the course of this investigation, Harvard has touted its willingness to work with the Committee, citing the thousands of pages of documents it has produced. But, of the 2,516 pages of documents Harvard has produced in response to the Committee’s antisemitism inquiry to date, at least 1,032—over 40 percent—were already publicly available. Quality—not quantity—is the Committee’s concern.”

“Last week, I made it very clear to Harvard that the documents it had produced up to that point were severely insufficient,” Foxx said. “I warned that a subpoena would be warranted if the university continued to miss the mark, giving it ample opportunity to correct course before compulsory measures were taken. Unfortunately, Harvard did not heed the Committee’s warning and once again failed to satisfy the Committee’s requests.”

“In its most recent response, Harvard failed to make substantial productions on two of four priority requests and its productions on the remaining two priority requests contain notable deficiencies, including apparent omissions and questionable redactions,” Foxx said. “Harvard’s continued failure to satisfy the Committee’s requests is unacceptable.”

On Dec. 20, 2023, the Education and the Workforce Committee informed Harvard of its intent to move forward with an investigation of antisemitic incidents at the school, along with a list of documents that the committee intended to request.

On Jan. 9, Foxx sent a letter to Pritzker and Garber requesting documents and information regarding Harvard’s response to antisemitism on its campus and its failure to protect Jewish students, faculty, and staff.

On Jan. 23, Foxx issued a statement calling Harvard’s initial production of documents related to the committee’s antisemitism investigation “woefully inadequate.” Harvard produced 24 documents to the committee totaling 1,032 pages—including letters from nonprofits and copies of student handbooks—all of which were already publicly available. Some of the documents sent to the Committee included inexplicable redactions of information that were included in the public versions.

On Feb. 7, Foxx sent a final warning to Pritzker and Garber reaffirming her intent to issue a subpoena if Harvard did not provide priority documents by Feb. 14.

“I will not tolerate delay and defiance of our investigation while Harvard’s Jewish students continue to endure the firestorm of antisemitism that has engulfed its campus,” Foxx said. “If Harvard is truly committed to combating antisemitism, it has had every opportunity to demonstrate its commitment with actions, not words. It is my hope that these subpoenas serve as a wakeup call to Harvard that Congress will not tolerate antisemitic hate in its classrooms or on campus.”

Last month, embattled Harvard President Claudine Gay resigned from her position as leader of the Ivy League school following weeks of campus turmoil that included plagiarism accusations and backlash over antisemitism testimony.

In October, amid mounting pressure from alumni and others, Gay condemned “the terrorist atrocities perpetrated by Hamas” in Israel, days after student organizations at the school signed a controversial joint statement holding Israelis responsible for all recent violence in that country.

In a statement at the time, Gay distanced herself and university leadership from the students’ statement which drew harsh criticism from congressional leaders and others, including Congressmen Seth Moulton and Jake Auchincloss, who are both Harvard alumni.

Three dozen student organizations at Harvard signed a joint statement holding “the Israeli regime entirely responsible for all unfolding violence.”

Tensions escalated on Harvard’s campus, and on other campuses nationwide, after more than 1,550 people were killed dead and thousands more were wounded after Hamas launched surprise attacks in Israel on Oct. 7, 2023.

Earlier this month, the Department of Education launched a discrimination investigation into a complaint that the school failed to protect Muslim and Palestinian students.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.

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