US univs pushing political agendas instead of excellence: Indian-origin journalist

New York, Dec 11 (IANS): Indian-origin newsman Fareed Zakaria has said that America’s top universities should abandon their long misadventure into politics and rebuild their reputations as centres of research and learning.

In a video message posted on X, the top CNN journalist and political commentator said that a "broad shift has taken place at elite universities, which have gone from being centres of excellence to institutions pushing political agendas."

"American universities have been neglecting a core focus on excellence in order to pursue a variety of agendas, many of them clustered around diversity and inclusion," Mumbai-born Zakaria said.

His remarks came after the presidents of Harvard University, the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) faced ire after they testified on December 5 about increasing concerns of anti-semitism on their campuses.

"What we saw in the House hearing this week was the inevitable result of decades of the politicisation of universities," Zakaria said.

"These universities and these presidents could not make the case clearly that at the centre of the university is the free expression of ideas. And then while harassment and intimidation would not be tolerated, offensive speech would and should be protected," he added.

In the backdrop of the Israel-Hamas war, campuses have witnessed a rise in hate crimes incidents. The Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights is investigating Harvard and the University of Pennsylvania after receiving alleged complaints of anti-semitism and Islamophobia.

The presidents, questioned by Republican-led House Committee on Education and the Workforce, said they have a disdain for anti-semitic language but also value free speech.

Following the hearing, the presidents faced a social media backlash with nearly 72 lawmakers demanding dismissal of these three presidents.

Zakaria said that America's top colleges are no longer seen as bastions of excellence for partisan outfits, "which means they will keep getting buffeted by these political storms as they emerge".



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