Feb 16, 2024 - Politics & Policy

House panel subpoenas Harvard in antisemitism investigation

Harvard Yard on a winter evening during finals week, December 13,

Harvard Yard in December 2023. Photo: Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis via Getty Images

The House committee investigating antisemitism at several elite colleges subpoenaed documents from officials at Harvard University on Friday.

Why it matters: It's the first time the Republican-led panel has issued subpoenas to any of the universities involved in the high-profile probe.

  • "It is my hope that these subpoenas serve as a wakeup call to Harvard that Congress will not tolerate antisemitic hate in its classrooms or on campus," said House Education Committee Chair Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) in a statement Friday.

The other side: Harvard spokesperson Jason Newton pushed back in a statement Friday, saying the school had "provided fulsome and good faith responses" across 10 document submissions totaling more than 3,500 pages.

  • Newton called the subpoenas "unwarranted" but said the school was committed to continuing to work with the committee.

Driving the news: Foxx cast doubt on Harvard's previous promise of "willingness to work with the Committee," saying in her statement that over 40% of what the school had turned over so far was already publicly available.

  • According to Foxx, what the university had shared with the committee contained "notable deficiencies, including apparent omissions and questionable redactions."
  • The subpoenas were issued to Harvard Corporation senior fellow Penny Pritzker, Harvard Interim President Alan Garber and Harvard Management Company CEO N.P. Narvekar.
  • They have until March 4 to turn over the requested documents.

The big picture: The House Education and Workforce Committee launched the investigation in December in the wake of several colleges presidents' congressional testimony on antisemitism.

  • The university leaders evaded questions during the hearing about disciplinary action over calls for violence against Jews, spurring bipartisan backlash.
  • Former Harvard President Claudine Gay resigned from her post weeks after taking part in the hearing, where her responses sparked significant blowback. Gay also faced allegations of plagiarism in the hearing's aftermath.

Flashback: The Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights in November also opened an investigation into Harvard over alleged incidents of antisemitism.

  • A Department of Education spokesperson confirmed to Axios Friday that the probe was closed after a class action lawsuit "with the same allegation(s)" was filed in federal court last month.

Editor's note: This story was updated with new information on the status of the Department of Education's investigation.

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