The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Opinion | Republicans are using real issues to try to defund universities

While antisemitism is a real and growing problem, Republicans using it to try to defund universities is disgraceful
Getty Images/iStock

Once again, education is on the federal funding chopping block — and not for a good reason.

In recent weeks, some Republican politicians have called to defund some U.S. colleges over the presence of anti-Israel statements and protests. These politicians, such as Sen. Joni Ernst, R-IA, and Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., claim to be combatting antisemitism.

While antisemitism is a very real and heightened threat during this time, it is only being used by Republicans to make baseless claims and try to defund education. Defunding education is the last thing we need to be doing. 

If these politicians are going to stop sending money to universities, they must clearly prove that the universities are directly promoting and teaching antisemitic principles. 

It is clear and tragic that in the wake of the start of the war, antisemitism has become an increased threat and one that must be stopped in all forms. However, these politicians have not proved that what is being taught at these universities is perpetuating antisemitism.

Antisemitism is undoubtedly present on these campuses, but the solution is not to stop giving the entire university money and call it a day. Students, organizations, and professors who spout antisemitism should be dealt with accordingly, but cutting funds to the entire university is totally unfair to students and faculty who do not hold those beliefs.

The only reason that funds to the entire university should be withheld is if there is proof that a university condones antisemitism on a widespread scale. 

These politicians are also doing a poor job of identifying antisemitism. Being anti-Israel does not inherently mean being antisemitic. Much of the current opposition to Israel is based on their horrendous actions during this war and has nothing to do with their Jewish foundations and culture.

Iowa GOP chair Jeff Kaufmann claimed that a protest held in the Pentacrest at UI was “pro-Hamas”. However, this protest was clearly not to support Hamas, and instead simply called for a ceasefire to end the violence. 

Additionally, Republicans wanting to defund education is a headline we repeatedly see. It’s one of their favorite places in government to cut funds to feel like they’re fulfilling their “small government” fantasy while actually causing significant harm. Maybe it’s because they know that educated voters are much less likely to vote for Republicans than Democrats. Maybe it’s because they resent how education proves all their beliefs wrong. 

In any case, Republicans are just using the very real threat of antisemitism to push their agenda on an entirely different issue. They would never just fight antisemitism for the noble cause of actually fighting it; they are using it as a vehicle to make themselves feel better about cutting education funding. After all, this is the same party that ran over 100 far-right candidates in 2022. 

This issue is ultimately another example of an absence of critical thinking from conservative politicians in both their assessment of the issue and their proposed solutions. Universities are not promoting antisemitism, and we do not need to defund them. 

Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.


More to Discover
About the Contributor
Evan Weidl
Evan Weidl, Opinions Editor
Evan Weidl is a senior majoring in political science. He previously worked in the opinions section as a columnist.