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MIT faces backlash for not expelling anti-Israel protesters over ‘visa issues’: ‘Who is in charge?’

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The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) was blasted this week after its administrators acknowledged the university stopped short of expelling anti-Israel student protesters because of “visa issues.”

MIT President Sally Kornbluth said in a statement Nov. 9 that the school would merely suspend students who participated in the disruptive protest from non-academic campus activities to avoid “collateral consequences for the students, such as visa issues.” One day earlier, the Coalition Against Apartheid, a pro-Palestinian student group, conducted a large protest that Kornbluth confirmed defied MIT policies governing student actions.

“In late morning, the face-to-face confrontation between the protesters and counterprotesters intensified,” Kornbluth said. “We had serious concerns that it could lead to violence. To prevent further escalation and protect the physical safety of everyone present – including both student protesters and passers-by in our busiest lobby — the administration felt it was essential to take action.”

“The students will remain enrolled at MIT and will be able to attend academic classes and labs,” she continued, noting some of the protesters’ “visa issues.” “We will refer this interim action to the Ad Hoc Complaint Response Team, which includes the chair of the Committee on Discipline, for final adjudication.”

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MIT was quickly criticized for the decision because, prior to the disruptive protest, the school threatened to expel any students who acted in violation of its guidance and policies regarding such actions. Kornbluth’s statement, they argued, appeared to contradict that previous promise.

“So MIT was going to suspend these students for clearly and deliberately violating the rules after repeated warnings, but decided not to because it could lead to their visas being revoked,” A.G. Hamilton, a conservative comentator and author, wrote on X. “It seems that’s something the students should have considered beforehand…”

“‘Visa issues’ are not only a reason to suspend these pro-Hamas foreigners from school, but also to deport them immediately,” Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., added in a post of his own.

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Israel War Room, a group that tracks attacks against Jewish people, posted a video Sunday which appeared to show anti-Israel protesters boasting that they successfully got the university to “back down” from its prior threats. The group said in the post: “Who is in charge, MIT?”

“MIT didn’t want to punish antisemitic foreign students harassing American Jews on campus because suspension would lead to deportation under the student visa rules,” conservative lawyer Marina Medvin said on X. “So MIT chose to help the antisemites instead of punishing them. Morality run amok.” 

“MIT is one of the most prestigious universities in the U.S. These days, foreigners make up about 30% of the MIT student body,” she continued. “Jewish students, on the other hand, make up about 6% of the MIT student body — a campus minority.”

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Additionally, Simon Rosenberg, a Democratic strategist who founded two left-wing groups, the New Democrat Network and the New Policy Institute, also criticized MIT administrators.

“This is not an easy time for University leaders but holy cow how is that okay?”

A photo illustration shows MIT President Sally Kornbluth pictured next to a recent pro-Palestinian protest on MIT's campus. Kornbluth said the school wouldn't suspend students who violated policies, citing "visa issues."

A photo illustration shows MIT President Sally Kornbluth pictured next to a recent pro-Palestinian protest on MIT’s campus. Kornbluth said the school would not suspend students who violated protest policies, citing “visa issues.” (Getty Images)

Meanwhile, Pro-Israel student group MIT Israel Alliance and its supporters have blasted school staff in recent weeks for having “no clear response” to the Coalition Against Apartheid’s alleged repeated harassment of Jewish students and staff members.

In a statement, the pro-Jewish group said, “With each passing day, MIT admin’s silence makes Jewish and Israeli students feel unsafe at MIT.”

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MIT staff separately told Fox News Digital that the administration has “received additional complaints about conduct by individual protesters and counterprotesters, and will be following up on those promptly.”

MIT did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Fox News Digital reporter Gabriel Hays contributed to this report.


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