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The Parthenon

Marshall University's Student Newspaper

The Parthenon

Marshall University's Student Newspaper

The Parthenon

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Beyond MU: University Donors Pull Funding for Lack of Support for Israel

Harvard and University of Pennsylvania are facing backlash from prominent alumni—including some cutting millions in donations—due to dissatisfaction with the institution’s handling of the conflict in the Middle East.

Several of the school’s alumni, including the likes of Utah senator Mitt Romney, billionaire Marc Rowan and “Law & Order” producer Dick Wolf, have spoken out over the institution’s responses to Hamas’ attack on Israel.

Since the attacks and Israel’s war declaration, over 5,700 Palestinians have been killed, primarily through Israeli airstrikes; meanwhile Israel has seen over 1,500 killed in the war according to the Associated Press. The conflict has caused a humanitarian crisis as resources have been cut off by Israel to the over  two million people living in the Gaza Strip.

Following the attacks on Oct. 7, Harvard released a statement on Oct. 9 saying they were “heartbroken by the death and destruction unleashed by Hamas.”

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 Meanwhile, over 30 student groups on the university’s campus have blamed Israel’s continued mistreatment of the Palestinian people for the terrorist group’s attack. The protesting alumni have since voiced their dissatisfaction by stating that the institutions have not done enough to distance their position from these student groups.

One alumnus, retail billionaire Leslie Wexner, created a program for Israeli students and donated over $42 million to Harvard. Wexner’s foundation said it would cut financial ties to the program over the institution’s handling of the situation.

Other alumni, including Romney, penned a letter to Harvard for failing to prevent a hostile environment for Jewish students at the university. In it, he said, “We fear that history is on the verge of repeating itself.”

Meanwhile, UPenn is facing a revolt from the likes of Rowan, who stated that the school’s response to Hamas’ attack on Israel did not align with the condemnations of the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade in 2022 and the murder of George Floyd in 2020. Rowan previously donated more than $50 million to the university and threatened to cut off his finances unless the school’s board stepped down.

Donations from alumni account for 17% of UPenn’s academic budget, with $1.5 billion donated in the past two years. UPenn previously faced backlash over a Palestinian literary festival.

Additionally, student protests supporting both Israel and Palestine have swept campuses across the United States. Pro-Israel students have criticizes failures to condemn Hamas on the pro-Israel side; meanwhile, pro-Palestine students have denounced failures to condemn the murder of Palestinians on the pro-Palestine side.

The protests have extended beyond college campuses as well, with thousands having gathered in the streets of major cities across the country to voice their support for each side of the conflict. Many, including the United Nations, are calling for world leaders to negotiate a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, with President Joe Biden prioritizing the release of hostages before a ceasefire can be negotiated.

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About the Contributor
Matthew Schaffer, Managing Editor
Matthew Schaffer is a senior at Marshall University pursuing a B.A. in multimedia journalism with a minor in political science. He follows national politics and foreign affairs. He has previously worked as a reporter for both The Parthenon and WMUL. After graduating, he plans to pursue a political and investigative journalism career. In the meantime, he is the self-proclaimed "Hoops Fever Champion" and is, in fact, accepting challengers.
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