Gov. Kathy Hochul warned state colleges and universities that they must crack down on antisemitism on their campus, or risk “aggressive enforcement action” from the state.
Hochul’s remarks came after the presidents of several prominent universities before Congress, who denied that their policies did not “clearly and unequivocally” ban hate speech against Jewish students.
“This week, like many Americans, I was shocked to see the presidents of several prominent universities – current leaders that are responsible for educating young minds who will grow into the leaders of tomorrow – fail to clearly and unequivocally denounce antisemitism and calls for genocide of the Jewish people on their college campuses,” Hochul wrote in a letter to the state’s education institutions on Saturday.
The testimonies from the leaders of Harvard University, the University of Pennsylvania and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology caused a nationwide firestorm — leading Penn President Liz Magill to resign after she equivocated on the question of whether “calling for the genocide of Jews” constituted a violation of the school’s code of conduct. The two other presidents have apologized for their remarks, and are currently fighting off calls for their removals.
Hochul said that institutions in the SUNY and CUNY systems could be ineligible for state funding if they similarly fail to rebuke antisemitism or fail to uphold anti-discrimination laws — particularly the New York State Human Rights Law, as well as Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
“I assure you that if any school in New York State is found to be in violation, I will activate the state’s Division of Human Rights to take aggressive enforcement action and will refer possible Title VI violations to the federal government,” Hochul said in her letter. “The moral lapses that were evidenced by the disgraceful answers to questions posed during this week’s congressional hearing cannot and will not be tolerated here in the state of New York.”
The governor added that she has personally spoken to SUNY Chancellor John B. King, Jr. and CUNY Chancellor Felix Matos Rodriguez, who confirmed to her that antisemitism and calls for genocide would, indeed, violate the policies of their respective institutions.
The situation stems from a rise in demonstrations following the outbreak of war in the Middle East following Hamas’ attacks on innocent Israelis on Oct. 7.
Since then, incidents of antisemitism have spikes across the nation, with several prominent incidents occurring on college campuses. One study, conducted by the Anti-Defamation League, found that 73% of Jewish college students have personally experienced antisemitism this year.
Prominent political leaders in New York took to social media following Hochul’s Saturday letter to commend the governor for her decisive stance against antisemitism on campuses.
“Thank you Gov. Kathy Hochul for stepping up and reminding universities operating in NY State that calls for genocide on college campuses will not be tolerated,” said Lynn Schulman, a Council Member representing Forest Hills in Queens.
Others simply blasted the ongoing examples of antisemitism permeating throughout campuses.
“The IRONY of having to put in writing that ‘celebrating or advocating for the murder or annihilation of any group of individuals on a college campus’ is WRONG at the ‘crème de la crème’ of American universities,” said southern Brooklyn Council Member Inna Vernikov.
“There is nothing ‘contextual’ about calls for all Jews to be killed. Jewish students around the country are afraid,” said Brooklyn Congress Member Dan Goldman. “If colleges refuse to protect Jewish students from generalized bullying and harassment then the universities either need a new code of conduct or new presidents.”