Republicans reject funding for Penn Veterinary School


Pennsylvania House Republicans voted this week to withhold millions of dollars from the University of Pennsylvania veterinary school amid an uproar over the school's response to anti-Semitism on campus.

The money, more than $30 million, would have been part of an annual allocation to the College of Veterinary Medicine, which is funded in part by the state. The rest of the private university does not receive state credits.

The war between Israel and Hamas has created a storm at several American universities, as administrators have tried to balance the free speech rights of pro-Palestinian protesters with concerns about rising anti-Semitism.

Penn President M. Elizabeth Magill resigned Saturday, four days after a congressional hearing in which she appeared to evade the question of whether students who called for the genocide of Jews should be punished.

The presidents of Harvard and MIT also faced fierce backlash for their responses at the hearing, but managed to keep their jobs.

House Republican leader Rep. Bryan Cutler called Magill's resignation a “good first start.” But he said he could not support the annual funding request for the veterinary school until more was done “in terms of rooting out, denouncing and taking an official stance on anti-Semitism that goes against the values ​​of the university.”

In comments before the House vote Wednesday, Cutler also noted that Magill remained a tenured member of the university's faculty.

The state Senate had already approved funding for the school, often referred to as Penn Vet, and House Democrats voted in favor on Wednesday. Some Republicans did too, but not enough to secure the two-thirds majority needed for passage.

Some of the state's budget decisions, including those for state-funded universities, have been delayed for months. The decision to withhold funding for the veterinary school applies to the current fiscal year, and state money would have made up about 18 percent of the school's budget, The Associated Press reported.

A Penn Vet spokesman, Martin J. Hackett, said in a statement that the school was “a vital part of Pennsylvania's agricultural industry” and that the state had a shortage of veterinarians. He added: “We hope the House of Representatives will reconsider this vote when it reconvenes in 2024.”

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