Stanford University suspended a teacher over allegations that students were targeted for their identities amid the Middle East conflict, adding to a growing backlash on campuses over the war.
(Bloomberg) — Stanford University suspended a teacher over allegations that students were targeted for their identities amid the Middle East conflict, adding to a growing backlash on campuses over the war.
The temporary removal comes after reports the non-faculty instructor called out individual students based on their backgrounds while addressing recent events in Israel.
“This report is a cause for serious concern,” the university said in a statement. “The instructor in this course is not currently teaching while the university works to ascertain the facts of the situation.”
Other schools including Harvard University and the University of Pennsylvania have come under criticism for their responses to the Hamas attacks on Israel. Students have staged protests and vigils in the aftermath of the violence, which has killed roughly 1,900 Palestinians and 1,300 Israelis.
Stanford also addressed complaints about offensive signs and message across campus, maintaining that controversial speech is legal unless it escalates to threats or harassment. Some of the signage was removed because it didn’t comply with rules that limit the time it can be displayed in certain campus locations, the university said.
“As a moral matter, we condemn all terrorism and mass atrocities,” Stanford President Richard Saller and Provost Jenny Martinez said in the statement. Still they reiterated the university’s policy of not taking positions on “complex political or global matters that extend beyond our immediate purview,” adding that their focus is on supporting members of the community.
More than 30 Harvard student groups signed a statement of solidarity with Palestine last week, saying responsibility for the violence falls on Israel. The letter sparked criticism from some peers and alumni.
Former Harvard President Larry Summers said he was “sickened” by the university’s hesitance to condemn the “acts of terror.” Hours later, Harvard leadership including President Claudine Gay issued a letter that acknowledged the “death and destruction unleashed by the attack by Hamas.”
Israeli billionaire Idan Ofer and his wife quit their positions on the Harvard Kennedy School Dean’s Executive Board, citing a “lack of clear evidence of support” toward the people of Israel from university leadership.
Meanwhile, Penn has been mired by accusations of antisemitism after the university hosted the Palestine Writes Literature Festival last month, with major donors including Apollo Global Management Inc.’s Marc Rowan calling on its president and board chair to resign.
Read more: UPenn Rejects Rowan Resignation Demand in Antisemitism Row
On Saturday, Penn trustee Vahan H. Gureghian, the founder of charter school firm CSMI Consulting Group, resigned in protest against the school leadership, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported. The university confirmed the resignation, with board Chair Scott Bok expressing “regret” at Gureghian’s decision to step down.
“The University vehemently condemns the atrocious terrorist attacks by Hamas on Israel and unequivocally rejects antisemitism in all forms, everywhere it exists,” Bok said in a statement Saturday. “We stand with our Jewish students, faculty, staff, and alumni and with Jewish people all over the world.”
–With assistance from Janet Lorin.
(Adds additional comment from Stanford in sixth paragraph. An earlier version corrected the spelling of Idan Ofer’s last name.)
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