Elise Stefanik eyes crackdown on colleges’ federal dollars amid campus antisemitism probe

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EXCLUSIVE: House Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik is looking at ways to leverage U.S. taxpayer dollars going to colleges and universities to ensure they crack down on antisemitic incidents on campus.

“You have to deliver accountability,” Stefanik, R-N.Y., told Fox News Digital. “Legislatively, there’s a number of avenues that I’m looking at.”

Stefanik was among a group of lawmakers who heard from Jewish college students at a Thursday roundtable, led by House Education and Workforce Committee Chair Virginia Foxx, R-N.C., where the young adults recalled instances of feeling threatened and being confronted with profanity just because of their Jewish identity.

It is part of the committee’s ongoing investigation into antisemitism on campus, which has already precipitated the departures of presidents at two major Ivy League schools — Harvard University and the University of Pennsylvania.

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Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., wants to leverage federal funding to universities that are not doing enough about antisemitism. (Haiyun Jiang/Bloomberg)

The New York Republican suggested she’s looking at possibly introducing legislation that would help improve the safety of Jewish students on campus as well, specifically targeting federal funds, foreign funding and offices of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI).

“Number one, U.S. taxpayer funding for these institutions — U.S. taxpayers do not want to prop up this moral rot of antisemitism, and we have to make sure that that is not the case,” Stefanik said. “Foreign funding as well, there is not full transparency in terms of foreign funding and strings that are attached to that foreign funding. This is a major issue on these college campuses.”

She also listed “the elimination of the offices of DEI,” calling DEI “inherently antisemitic.”

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“We heard from numerous students today that when Jewish students reach out to offices of DEI, they don’t even get a response when it comes to harassment and violence,” Stefanik said. “So there’s so much work to do, but this is a reckoning. It’s an earthquake, and it’s long overdue.”

Foxx would not go into detail about her committee’s next steps, but said lawmakers had an abundance of information to digest before moving forward, having sent numerous requests for colleges to shed light on how they are protecting Jewish students on campus.

Foxx makes remarks on Capitol Hill about the rise in antisemitism

Stefanik made the comments after a roundtable with Jewish students held by Education and Workforce Committee Chair Virginia Foxx, R-N.C., center. (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

“We have a lot of work to do with combing through the material that we’re getting in from the campuses, and we’ll see what happens school by school,” Foxx told Fox News Digital.

“The most important thing from this roundtable was to make sure that the American people heard what [the students] had to say. Their testimony is compelling, they are in fear on their campuses. And that should not be happening to any student on a college campus in this country. And it is up to the heads of those campuses to make sure that these students are not in fear of their life or their safety.” 

For roughly two hours, bipartisan lawmakers heard from students from around the country who said their schools are not doing enough to combat antisemitism on campus.

Harvard University student Shabbos Kestenbaum said Congress was his “last hope” because “Harvard has refused to take any responsibility, any accountability, and to help Jewish students.”

“If antisemitism is a disease, then certainly Harvard University is the Wuhan wet market,” he said.

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Harvard University

A sign declares the Jewish student organization HILLEL society’s building at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, a safe space. A Harvard student urged House lawmakers to “subpoena, subpoena, subpoena” over the school’s handling of antisemitism.

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Rutgers University student Joe Gindi said a program coordinator at the New Jersey state school once “screamed” at Jewish students, “F— you. F— you, colonizer. F— you, Zionist.”

Instances of antisemitism and Islamophobia have both risen in the wake of Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on Israel, when militants entered the southern part of the country and slaughtered more than 1,200 people during a music festival. 

Israel has responded with heavy shelling and a ground invasion of Gaza. The Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry, which does not delineate between fighters and civilians, has said that more than 30,000 Palestinians have been killed so far.

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