Editorial: Feds tell colleges to keep students safe or lose $$

While actions speak louder than words, it often takes words to spur action. Few are more inspiring than “shape up or we could cut your funding.”

That’s the gist of Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona’s warning to colleges and universities who’ve dithered as hateful rhetoric and harassment rage on campuses around the country.

“We want to promote free speech and, to be frank with you, college campuses are where students should be able to express different opinions. But when it comes to antisemitism or Islamophobia, that has no place on our college campuses or in our schools,”  Cardona said in a CNN interview.

College presidents maintain that they’re trying to balance freedom of speech and the safety of their students, but the “can’t we all get along” approach has done little to end campus strife.

A disturbing video making the rounds on X shows a Harvard University student getting mobbed by pro-Palestinian demonstrators on the school’s campus screaming, “Shame, shame, shame.”

As the Post reported, more than a half-dozen demonstrators are seen holding keffiyehs in the student’s face as they surround him and stop him from getting away.

Also last month, 11 Jewish students at Cooper Union — which shares academic buildings with New York University — were barricaded inside the university’s library when pro-Palestinian protesters blew past security and aggressively pounded on the building’s doors.

This is not the time to play academic Switzerland.

A national group called “Universities United Against Terrorism,” stands in support of Israel against Hamas, as the Herald reported.

“We, the presidents and chancellors of universities, colleges and higher education associations across the United States of America and the world, stand with Israel, with the Palestinians who suffer under Hamas’ cruel rule in Gaza and with all people of moral conscience,” the national group wrote with more than 100 signatures from higher education institutions. UMass President Marty Meehan is a coalition founder of the group, along with Brandeis President Ronald Liebowitz.

Brandeis went a step further, banning the campus’ Students for Justice in Palestine chapter after SJP groups across the country applauded Hamas for the terrorist organization’s deadly attacks in Israel.

Deep-pocketed donors have already made their disgust and dismay over antisemitism and support for Hamas on campuses known by cutting off their financial support.

Rightly so. Institutions of higher learning who make a point to provide safe spaces for students so they can avoid microaggressions epitomize hypocrisy when they don’t pull out all the stops to censure blatant acts of aggression and harassment.

Here’s hoping that the coalition of colleges signing on to support Israel and denounce Hamas for both their terrorist attacks and oppression of Palestinians in Gaza motivates more universities to step up as well.

In case it doesn’t, Secretary Cardona’s message puts welcome fiscal muscle behind much-needed moral reckoning.


Editorial cartoon by Steve Breen (Creators Syndicate)

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