House committee threatens Harvard subpoena, accuses Ivy League school of ‘obstructing’ antisemitism probe

House Education and the Workforce Committee Chair Virginia Foxx, R-N.C., sent a final warning on Wednesday for Harvard University to produce documents relevant to Congress’ investigation into rampant antisemitism on campus, threatening to issue a subpoena if the Ivy League school does not comply by a Valentine’s Day deadline. 

In the letter to Harvard Corporation Senior Fellow Penny Pritzker and Interim President Dr. Alan Garber, Foxx said the committee “has sought to obtain information regarding Harvard’s response to the numerous incidents of antisemitism on its campus and steps taken to protect Jewish students, faculty, and staff,” yet the university continually failed to produce documents. 

Foxx reaffirmed her intent to issue a subpoena if Harvard does not provide priority documents by February 14, 2024, at 5:00 p.m. 

“Harvard’s responses have been grossly insufficient, and the limited and dilatory nature of its productions is obstructing the Committee’s efforts,” Foxx wrote. “If Harvard continues to fail to comply with the Committee’s requests in a timely manner, the Committee will proceed with compulsory process.”

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“Harvard also failed to produce any of the meeting minutes and/or summaries from the Harvard Board of Overseers and Harvard Management Company, claiming that ‘after a reasonable search and review to date, Harvard has not identified meeting minutes in connection with Request 10 or 11 in your letter that relate or refer to antisemitism or the war in Israel or Gaza, for either the Board of Overseers or the Management Company since October 7, 2023,’” the letter continues.

“Given the publicly documented antisemitism on Harvard’s campus, especially since the October 7 attacks, it would be shocking if the Board of Overseers and Harvard Management Company thought protecting Harvard’s Jewish students was so insignificant that the topic was not worthy of discussion at a single meeting.”

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Foxx said Harvard has until next Wednesday to produce all priority documents related to Harvard Corporation, Board of Overseers, and Harvard Management Company meeting minutes and/or summaries; all documents and communications since January 1, 2021, referring and/or relating to antisemitism, involving the Harvard Corporation and Harvard Board of Overseers; documents sufficient to show the findings and results of any disciplinary processes, changes in academic status, or personnel actions by Harvard towards Harvard students, employees, and other Harvard affiliates related to conduct involving the targeting of Jews, Israelis, Israel, Zionists, or Zionism since Jan. 1, 2021; and documents and communications referring and/or relating to the establishment of the newly formed President’s Task Force on Antisemitism and to the previous Antisemitism Advisory Group formed by then-President Gay.

On December 20, the House committee first informed Harvard of its intent to move forward with an investigation of antisemitism at the school and provided an extensive list of documents that lawmakers intended to request. Foxx sent a letter to Pritzker and Garber on January 9, requesting documents and information regarding Harvard University’s response to antisemitism on its campus and its failure to protect Jewish students, faculty, and staff. 

In a January 19 letter to the committee, Harvard provided insight to Congress about the university’s own investigation into plagiarism allegations against Gay – but not about antisemitism.

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On January 23, Foxx issued a statement calling Harvard’s initial production of documents related to the Committee’s antisemitism investigation “woefully inadequate.” Harvard produced 24 documents to the Committee totaling 1032 pages, including letters from nonprofits and copies of student handbooks, all of which were already publicly available. Some of the documents sent to the Committee included inexplicable redactions of information that were not included in the public versions. 

The Harvard Corporation initially rallied behind former University President Claudine Gay after she was widely criticized for failing to clarify outright whether calls for intifada or the genocide of Jews violated the university’s code of conduct or policies against bullying and harassment while testifying before the House Education and the Workforce Committee hearing last year. 

Gay eventually resigned in January, but as a result of the plagiarism allegations. The school’s board initially said a review of Gay’s scholarly work turned up “a few instances of inadequate citation” but no evidence of research misconduct. The allegations of plagiarism continued to surface through December, however, and Gay ultimately stepped down from that position while remaining in a faculty role. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.