Congressman Rudy Yakym (R-IN) sent letters to directors of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at 110 colleges across the United States, including the University of Pennsylvania, discussing their lack of action in relation to antisemitic events on campus.
The letter, which was sent on Nov. 6, opened with a contextualization of the rise in antisemitism after the start of the Israel-Hamas war and quoted Joe Biden calling the recent antisemitic messages on college campuses across the country “extremely disturbing.” It was also sent to schools including Yale, Harvard, Georgetown, Cornell, UC Berkeley, and Cooper Union.
The letter comes to Penn after controversy surrounding the Palestine Writes Literature Festival, vandalism at Hillel, a swastika on Meyerson Hall, and threats made to Hillel and Lauder dorm last week. Although some letters, such as the one sent to Harvard, have been publicly released, Penn’s letter has not.
"Taxpayers, parents, and concerned Americans deserve to know how these higher education institutions are responding to some of the most vile and blatant antisemitic displays in recent memory happening on their own campuses," Yakym told Townhall.
In the letter, Yakym asked universities to define their terms of antisemitism. Specifically, he called on them to classify whether specific phrases, such as “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” were antisemitic or not. He also asked administrators if they thought that the removal of posters of the missing hostages increased Israeli and Jewish students’ feelings of inclusivity on campuses.
Yakym also requested more information on the ratio of employees working on combating antisemitism in comparison to the number of employees in the DEI office in total, as well as what the office has done to combat antisemitism since Hamas attacked Israel. He expressed a desire for details on measures to prevent Israeli or Jewish students from violence, harassment, intimidation, and campus exclusion, as well as how such incidents could be reported.
The letter closed with a brief thank you and expectation of reply by Dec. 8, saying, “I look forward to your responses.”
Yakym’s communication comes in the wake of 20 Congressmen sending President Liz Magill a letter criticizing the University of Pennsylvania's response to Hamas' attack on Israel.