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America’s Ivy Problem: “they’re just not being truthful about how they regulate speech on campuses”

America’s Ivy Problem: “they’re just not being truthful about how they regulate speech on campuses”

“Is this what’s leading our most elite universities? That’s really sad… You can’t highly regulate speech so that anything that offends anybody is a possible infraction and yet make an exclusion for Jewish students.”

I appeared on Friday, December 8, 2023, on the Tony Katz Show to discuss the fairly pathetic” appearance by the presidents of Harvard, U. Penn, and MIT in congress on the issue of campus antisemitism.

So far, the MIT President received the full backing of the MIT Board of Trustees, while the Harvard President has apologized. The U. Penn President also apologized. At the time of the taping of the interview below her job was in doubt, and today she resigned.

I discussed all of that plus the hypocrisy of elite universities on the issue of free speech, where almost nothing is tolerated if it offends the favored identity groups.

Partial Transcript (auto-generated, may contain transcription errors)

Katz (01:41):

Well, it seems like these college presidents, these Ivy League, or as people like myself now call it the ISIS League, they seem okay with this. So the question is, what is the proper response to this? Tony Katz? Tony Katz, today, it’s good to be with you. William Jacobson joins us right now, Cornell Law Professor of the ind behind Be sure to check out the site and all the good work, that they do there. Before we get into maybe a conversation about the difference between the role of government and the role of the university, you are a college professor, you have been a professor, while being you and taking all the heat in the world, for the past maybe 10 years now. You watch this happen, you watch these university presidents from the Ivy League. Give this answer. What was your, what was your take?

WAJ (02:38):

Well, I think it shows really how pathetic the leadership of our most elite universities are. These were not impressive people. It’s a wonder that really three top ranked schools, two in the Ivy League and one not in the Ivy League, but you know, the premier science and technology and math institution in the country, really were so unimpressive. They seemed unprepared. They seemed like they had been told what lines to say, and it seems like they were all prepared to say the same lines. And it really, I think that’s was my takeaway. Is this what’s leading our most elite universities? That’s really sad. So that was my initial reaction to it.

Katz (03:26):

I think it’s Bill Ackman who is a Harvard alumnus and a donor there. Wait, was Harvard or, yeah, I think it was Harvard, referring to the fact that Claudine Gay, who is a black woman, got her job because of DEI. I have no idea how she gother job there, but there’s a question of, when you talk about non impressive, I think that there are a bunch of people who said that, how did these women end up in these positions? If on a very simple subject, they can’t say a call to genocide clearly can be seen as harassment. Now, let’s get into that. A call to genocide is not seen as harassment?

WAJ (04:06):

We also have to understand how these things are happening on the campuses. They’re not happening in quiet conversations where people are expressing their views. They’re mobs marching through campus with bullhorns. They’re marching through libraries. They’re interrupting classes and chanting these things. Certainly in that context, it’s harassment and intimidation. So this is not a [question of] can you have the viewpoint that Israel should be destroyed? Maybe you can have that viewpoint. Can you shout it on a bullhorn while marching with a crowd of 300 people trying to intimidate everybody around you. And I think that’s he difference here. And I think that’s a huge distinction, that it’s not just what was said. It’s the way it is said is meant to intimidate people on campus. And it’s particularly meant to intimidate supporters of Israel.

And it’s particularly meant to intimidate Jewish students on campus because a lot of these things take place targeting Jewish students like at Cooper Union where Jewish students were hiding in the library or some room in the building as these mobs were chanting these things right outside the door. A lot of places, there’s attempts to break into rooms like that high school in New York City where they trapped a pro-Israel Jewish professor, and were chanting these things.

So these presidents were not in my estimation, being honest during that hearing. That doesn’t mean they committed perjury, but I don’t think they were being intellectually honest because they know full well not just what is said and what the intention of what is said, but they know how it is said. In those contexts for them to play this game, that it’s not intimidation. I think it was the president of MIT, if I’m remembering correctly, said, well, it could be threatening, if it’s directed at a specific person, but not if it’s stated kind of generally. Well, I disagree with that. When you have a mob of 300 people trapping Jewish students in rooms chanting these things, that’s intimidation and harassment,

Katz (06:18):

Talking to William Jacobson, Cornell Law professor, the mind behind It certainly does make sense, but I want you to, if you could try and place it for us, as you have seen, whether it be at Cornell or other places, use the wrong pronoun you could be thrown out of the school. They’ll have whole assemblies and forced learnings about this. You engage in this cultural appropriation, engage in, in this misgendering, engage name, the name the thing, through the DEI/CRT lens. And you are gone. You’ve seen this happen in both schools and in in the private sector. How do they think that this doesn’t apply?

WAJ (07:10):

I think you’re right. That gets to a point that a lot of people have making, have made, that if they want campuses to be complete wide open free speech zones, yeah, that would be great. But they’re not. Speech is highly regulated. They have bias response teams. They have concepts of microaggressions. Like if you ask somebody, where are you from?, that most people would shrug their shoulders. That’s not an offensive. But if you were to ask that question to an Asian student on campuses, you would be accused of a microaggression or you could be accused of a microaggression, you know, suggesting that they’re not from the United States.

There’s all sorts of insane regulations of speech on campuses. And then for them to show up and say, well, a mob of students with bullhorns chanting Intifada, and we all know what that means, and targeting Jewish students is not intimidation and is perfectly acceptable speech, you can’t have it both ways. You can’t highly regulate speech so that anything that offends anybody is a possible infraction and yet make an exclusion for Jewish students.

Katz (08:28):

So this gets to a conversation about the legal concepts regarding free speech. As we engage the First Amendment, it’s that government will make no law. So the government can’t say to these people, you’re not allowed to scream for genocide. If you want to chant from the river to the sea, the government cannot stop you. But the university certainly could stop you. And it would seem that if there are these other things as you’re discussing them, that we say we don’t allow that, it would fit into that case. That is the difference. Can you describe the difference between what the government is allowed to do and what the university is allowed to do?

WAJ (09:11):

Well, if you’re a private university, just like in your house, people may have a right to shout certain things on the street, but they don’t have the right to come into your living room and shout them.

So private property, obviously is not governed by the prohibition of restrictions on free speech. But the government is. I think it was the woman from MIT again, I’m forgetting which one said what, but I think it was MIT said, well, we construe our speech policies to be consistent with the First Amendment. So some schools, and apparently that school says that if it’s allowed under the First Amendment, meaning if the government can’t stop you from doing it, we don’t stop you from doing it. But we know that’s a lie. We know that’s a lie on every campus. I don’t know if there’s a single campus which would allow you to say openly on campus things that are offensive to various identity groups, but you have a constitutional right to say them. But there isn’t a single campus where you can say them without getting in trouble, so that they’re just not being truthful about how they regulate speech on campuses. And that’s part of the problem

Katz (10:25):

You are now seeing, and it’s Sally Kornbluth, who’s the president of MIT. You’re now seeing the backlash. There has been a conversation that Liz McGill, president of University of Pennsylvania might lose her gig. You saw her, what looked like a hostage video, apology. You’ve seen Claudine Gay, president of Harvard, with a really non-apology kind of statements regarding her remarks on campus antisemitism in the college world. Has there been from the alumni and donors, I mean, we hear about them here and there, bits and pieces of things. Has there really been a, ‘Hey, we’re not putting up with this crap anymore. You change, or we’re out, we’re pulling our money right now.’ Have you seen that in a palpable way?

WAJ (11:16):

I only know what’s public information, and it seems like there have been a number of big donors who have done that. I think there will be a backlash against certain schools. I don’t think you’re seeing the backlash on campuses. You’re seeing the backlash off campuses from alumni and donors, who are usually the same thing. So yeah, I think there will be, but I don’t think these top tier elite universities, like MIT, Penn, and Harvard, really care. Maybe they will when you get eight figure and nine figure donations pulled. But I don’t think they really care. They are so insulated from the world. They consider themselves above everybody else. They sneer at most Americans. So I think there is a backlash building. I think it’s a backlash at the top tier elite schools, but I don’t know that it’s going make a difference.

Katz (12:16):

…. I talked about this earlier, regarding the way Jews vote, for example, I’m Jewish. I know you are of course. Are they really going to change the way their vote or the way they vote in, in light of what happened on October 7th? And in light of the way that the progressive party has really acted in not condemning Hamas, but throwing support their way in groups like the Council of America Islamic Relations and others? In your estimation, if you were a betting man, William Jacobson of, any of these college presidents going lose their jobs or change their ways?

WAJ (13:18):

Well, we know that MIT’s president is not, because last night the board of trustees of MIT offered a full-blown support of her, and backing of her. And so she’s not going to lose her job. I don’t think Harvard’s president is going lose her job. That would have huge implications because of her identity, if they were to fire a black woman president of Harvard. The one who I think is at risk is McGill for Penn. I’m not sure why she’s kind of being singled out by people. I don’t know that her performance was that much worse than the others. I think maybe it was a little bit, but she’s being singled out. And I think that’s probably a reflection of preexisting anger about what’s happening at UPenn. It really, of the three who are there, it’s the worst of the schools.

I know people who are alums there, and they’re disgusted at what’s happened. Penn is the most active anti-Israel campus among the Ivy League campuses, with the possible exception of Columbia. I think Columbia might be worse, but the President of Columbia wasn’t testifying to Congress. So I think that’s why. So I think there is a significant possibility. I’m not saying it’s going to happen, a significant possibility that this is the straw that breaks Liz McGill’s back, so to speak, using that phrase, that because there was so much upset heading into this about what’s happening at Penn, that this might just be too much. [Note: Magill resigned today, December 9]

Katz (14:54):

William Jacobson Cornell Law, professor of the mind behind I appreciate it.



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The airplane flying over Harvard towing the banner “Harvard hates Jews” was the right response, if it’s to be a battle of slogans.

    ConradCA in reply to rhhardin. | December 11, 2023 at 1:53 am

    Apparently, Trump issued an executive order that expanded so institutions that receive federal funds can’t discriminate against Jews. This means that universities who allow mobs of antisemites calling for the mass murder of Jews to roam thru their campuses and invade classes without consequences should lose all federal funding! This should include grants, and student loans. I n doubt that Quisling Joe will do this, but it’s away that President Trump could clean up woke schools.

“I don’t think Harvard’s president is going lose her job. That would have huge implications because of her identity, if they were to fire a black woman president of Harvard.”

That’s because all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.

    BL771 in reply to Peabody. | December 10, 2023 at 3:55 am

    I’m pretty sure the only place left in Western civilization that a POC is evaluated equally, on merit , is at a track meet.

      chocopot in reply to BL771. | December 11, 2023 at 12:58 pm

      Don’t give them any ideas. They may begin requiring straight white males to run with leg weights – for the sake of “equity,” of course.

Of course they are not being truthful, unless you consider their truth. The breeding grounds for American totalitarianism, true to the creed and not knowing much of anything else.

It’s been growing for a long time, and now that the dupes who actually care have noticed, it’s almost too late. Wait until they discover it’s Obama that duped them.

    henrybowman in reply to gonzotx. | December 10, 2023 at 5:04 am

    “Then on top of that, the election was scheduled for Dec. 9, but she put out a video encouraging people to come out and vote on the wrong date– Dec.7”
    Well, that’s a felony!
    When can we expect her to get the same treatment that Douglass Mackey got?

      Milhouse in reply to henrybowman. | December 10, 2023 at 6:22 am

      Nope. Mackey’s meme told Clinton voters that they could vote by text. Lee’s ad was targeted at her own voters, so she would only have hurt herself.

      Besides, if anyone showed up on the 7th they would see the polls were closed, and would come back on the 9th, whereas if anyone actually fell for Mackey’s prank (which is highly doubtful) they would have thought they had already voted and would thus not vote properly.

      None of which justifies Mackey’s treatment. But the comparison is inapt.

JackinSilverSpring | December 9, 2023 at 10:55 pm

The Ivies have become Poison Ivies as far as Jews and Western civilization are concerned.

“Every great cause begins as a movement, becomes a business, and eventually degenerates into a racket.” — Eric Hofffer

The Ivies haven’t been truthful about much, for quite a while; a racket and they don’t even know it. Makes you long for the days of honest crooks. At least your Chicago Alderman got the streets plowed, and kept the violent crime to intramurals.

When did MIT join the Ivy League?

    gonzotx in reply to MTED. | December 10, 2023 at 3:00 am

    When they became a racket

    While no one was watching

    When you’ve lost the nerds….

    Milhouse in reply to MTED. | December 10, 2023 at 3:33 am

    It didn’t, because it doesn’t play football very much, but it’s equally prestigious. As Prof J puts it in the transcript: “two in the Ivy League and one not in the Ivy League, but you know, the premier science and technology and math institution in the country”

The Duke d’Escargot | December 10, 2023 at 4:02 am

At MIT and Harvard and Penn, at Stanford Michigan and UCLA, it’s no longer “NEVER AGAIN!”


That they’re not being truthful is the key point. Because what they all told Stefanik would actually have been correct if they had been government schools, or if they really had the policy they claimed to have, that they behaved as if they were bound by the first amendment. The reason their testimony was met with such incredulity is that they don’t have such a policy. Or rather, they have it on paper but they don’t keep it, and everyone knows it.

The right thing to do would be to commit themselves now to actually honoring their policy. If they were to do that, then they would be right to say that advocating genocide against Jews can constitute harassment, and thus against the college code of conduct, only in some contexts and not in others. But then the same must be true for people saying equally offensive things about black people, or gay people, etc. They can’t have this policy and only honor it when it comes to Jews.

    BierceAmbrose in reply to Milhouse. | December 11, 2023 at 12:42 am

    Your policy is what you do.

    Whatever’s written down is a policy document: some kind of window dressing for the gullible, and a place to park busy bodies when it needs updating.

It’s a rough justice. Jews have been the most ardent in pushing the crazy social policies that made the career elevation of these three dopey chicks possible. Now they demand fairness.

    rebelgirl in reply to E Howard Hunt. | December 10, 2023 at 9:44 am

    Demanding certain liberal social policies does not equate to calling for genocide…maybe it is an inevitable result but it’s not the same thing.

    According to woke progressive lefties, jews are now to be considered in the category of oppressor, unless they renounce israel’s right to exist.

    Similar to black police officers accused of being race traitors by BLM. Similar to women who are attacked by feminists for being pro-life.

    Lefties demand to dictate the terms of dialog.

      ConradCA in reply to smooth. | December 10, 2023 at 11:40 pm

      The woke progressive fascists think:

      The Palestinians are POC and oppressed. Israel is their oppressor. This means that what happened on 10/07 was justified, but Israel has no right to defend themselves.

      With this logic they could justify Hitler’s war on the rest of the world and his extermination of the Jews.

The premise here is that these University Presidents are being hypocritical because we all know that anti-LGBTQABCDEFG statements are not allowed and will get you banned. However, things have recently changed at MIT.

In late 2021 a non-MIT prominent geophysics professor was invited by an MIT department to give a lecture in his area of expertise. He had published an op-ed in Newsweek proposing that DEI be replaced by a merit-based system of evaluation in academia. A Twitter storm from a few Institute alumni and students cowed the Dean of that department to cancel the lecture.

That caused a HUGE furor among MIT alumni. Long story short, due to pressure (MIT alumni can be found in some very powerful positions in gov’t and business and give lots of $) MIT now has a free speech policy voted in 2:1 by the faculty that is reasonably close to the Chicago principles. At which point a group of students chalked multiple slogans around campus that the LGBTQABCDEF students thought were horrible and complained about. The administration said “Sorry, that’s permissible under the free speech polity” and took no action. It later came out that it was LGBTQABCDEF students who did the chalking to promote the proposition that “See how horrible and how much pain this causes? That means you must change the policy” but no, no change.

So in MIT’s case, anyway, and at least up to now, the charge of hypocrisy does not hold. Stay tuned, of course.

And when I say that MIT has alumni in some powerful positions, note that one of the main targets of anti-Israel protests is Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel and MIT B.S. ’74 MBA ’75.