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University of Pennsylvania Faces $100 Million Donation Withdrawal Over Antisemitism Controversy

A significant backlash against the University of Pennsylvania has ensued as Ross Stevens, founder and CEO of Stone Ridge Asset Management and a major donor, announces the withdrawal of a donation worth approximately $100 million. The move is a protest against the university’s handling of antisemitism on campus and, notably, the controversial testimony by UPenn President Liz Magill.

Stevens, who had donated partnership units in his firm in 2017 to establish a financial innovation center, contends that the university violated Stone Ridge’s limited partnership agreement by failing to adhere to anti-discrimination and anti-harassment rules. The letter from Stevens’s attorneys expressed deep concern over UPenn’s permissive approach to hate speech against Jews, accusing the university of tolerating harassment and discrimination against Jewish students, which would violate any policies prohibiting such behavior.

The withdrawal decision stems from Magill’s testimony before the House Education and Workforce Committee, where she characterized antisemitic chants and calls for the genocide of Jewish people as “context-dependent.” The letter emphasized that Magill’s subsequent clarification, acknowledging the calls for genocide as harassment and discrimination, came only after public outcry and demands for her termination.

In response to the mounting backlash, Magill posted a video reiterating that her testimony focused on university policies and constitutional protections of free speech. However, she clarified that a “call for genocide of Jewish people is threatening, deeply so,” expressing her commitment to a safe, secure, and supportive environment on campus.

Stevens’s letter to UPenn outlined that reconsideration of the donation withdrawal would only be possible if Magill were replaced as president. This further underscores the severity of the situation, as a major donor aligns the future of his financial support with the university’s leadership change.

The controversy surrounding UPenn’s handling of antisemitism continues to escalate, with financial implications and reputational risks at stake. The outcome of this situation will undoubtedly have lasting consequences for the university’s standing and underscores the delicate balance universities must navigate when addressing issues of discrimination and free speech.

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