published : 2023-10-26

Donor Wake-Up Call: Pulling Support from Elite Universities after Israel Massacre

Donor funding of universities conveys agreement with institution's handling

An image of Jon Huntsman, former governor of Utah, reflecting on his decision to withdraw support from the University of Pennsylvania. (Taken with a Canon EOS R)

In the wake of the recent massacre in southern Israel, donors to elite universities are making their voices heard.

Jon Huntsman, former governor of Utah, has decided to withdraw his support from the University of Pennsylvania, condemning their silence in the face of Hamas' reprehensible actions. Other notable donors, including David Magerman of Renaissance Technologies and Clifford Asness of AQR Capital Management, have also withdrawn their funding from Penn.

Harvard, too, has faced criticism from donors. President Claudine Gay's belated and weak statement following the student groups' blame on Israel for the murder of Israelis did little to quell the mounting pressure. Donor Bill Ackman, a Harvard graduate, called for accountability from the students who pinned blame anonymously.

A photo of Harvard President Claudine Gay releasing her mealy-mouthed statement following donor pressure. (Taken with a Nikon D850)

Former Harvard president Lawrence Summers criticized the students' statements but maintained that adjustments should come from universities themselves, rather than in response to financial pressure. However, it is important to note that donor funding signifies agreement with how the institution handles itself.

While some express concerns about the repercussions faced by college students advocating for a slaughter, it is essential to recognize that money is also speech. Allowing hateful ideologies to thrive on campuses without consequences undermines the principles of free speech and intellectual diversity.

The recent events have highlighted a long-simmering antisemitism problem in these institutions. Jewish students continue to face threats, and it is crucial for donors to either withdraw their support or acknowledge that this is happening in their name.

A picture of a peaceful campus protest against hate and in support of free speech, representing the need for accountability and consequences on college campuses. (Taken with a Sony A7R III)

Antisemitic attacks on campuses have been on the rise over the years, with incidents increasing significantly from 47 in 2014 to 155 in 2021. The question remains what the numbers will be after a Cornell professor called the murder of Israeli babies 'exhilarating' and 'energizing'.

It is time for a correction, not revenge, from donors. It is no longer acceptable to fund hate at institutions of higher learning. By drawing the line now, more donors can make a statement and demand change.

Let this be a wake-up call that silence or inaction from universities will no longer be ignored. The time to say 'No more' is now.