Kimberly P. Yow

Kimberly P. Yow

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Gov. Abbott warns Texas universities they must ensure nobody on campus advocates for genocide, antisemitism

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Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, told colleges and universities in the Lone Star State on Tuesday that they should avoid teaching students about any social agendas and should work to root out antisemitism on their campuses.

Abbott was speaking at the annual conference of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board at the University of Texas in Austin when he warned universities that business executives are not interested in the social or political motivations of the academic institutions prospective employees attend, according to Fox 7.

“There’s been none of them who have asked me what is the ideological bent of what is being taught in our universities? How are students being indoctrinated? They don’t ask that because that is not applicable to what they are trying to achieve when they hire an employee,” Abbott said.

The governor also urged university officials to ensure Jewish students are not subject to antisemitism when they step foot on campus in Texas, a reference to the controversial testimonies about the rise of antisemitism on campus delivered before Congress last week by Harvard University President Claudine Gay, then-University of Pennsylvania President Liz Magill and MIT President Sally Kornbluth.

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“You have a leadership responsibility, to ensure that there is no one on your campuses that are advocating for genocide or antisemitism. It is completely unacceptable in the state of Texas, period,” Abbott told the Texas institutions.

During last week’s hearing before the House Education and the Workforce Committee, House GOP Chair Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., demanded Gay, Magill and Kornbluth answer whether calls on campus for intifada, or the genocide of Jews, violated their respective universities’ codes of conduct or rules against bullying and harassment.

The Ivy League presidents would not give direct answers, leading to backlash and calls for their resignations. Magill stepped down on Saturday but Gay and Kornbluth are holding onto their positions.

“It can be, depending on the context,” Gay told Stefanik, prompting the lawmaker to press her for a yes or no answer.

“Antisemitic speech when it crosses into conduct that amounts to bullying, harassment, intimidation — that is actionable conduct, and we do take action,” Gay added.

Stefanik asked, “So the answer is yes, that calling for the genocide of Jews violates Harvard’s code of conduct, correct?”

“Again, it depends on the context,” Gay replied.

Gay apologized for her comments in a statement released after the hearing, in which she said calls for violence against Jewish students have no place at Harvard.

Stefanik later accused Harvard officials during a news conference of making no changes to their School Code and criticized them for declining to fire Gay.

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The controversy over the Ivy League presidents’ testimonies on Capitol Hill has cost the institutions donor money and could hurt students’ future job opportunities.

“If we have university leaders who are so hinged to ideological concepts, where they are unable to say what is and what is not antisemitism,” Abbott said in his remarks. “What is and what is not; attempts at genocide. Then we have educational institutions that have lost their way as it concerns what their mission is.”

Earlier this year, the GOP-controlled Texas legislature passed legislation that was later signed into law to shut down diversity, equity and inclusion programs at all public universities in Texas. Abbott did not speak about the new law during his speech on Tuesday, but he did emphasize that he wants professors to focus on education instead of pushing any social agendas.

“Drifting from your core mission. It’s not only exposing your universities to extraordinary condemnation like what some Ivy League schools have been subject to,” Abbott said. “You’re causing us if you do it, to drift away from what our real core mission is, and that’s to keep America the number one country in the world.”

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