Dave Portnoy, a well-known face of Barstool Sports, has held steadfast in his decision not to hire graduates from prestigious universities such as Harvard, MIT, and the University of Pennsylvania.
This decision follows a distressing congressional testimony where administrative heads from these institutions did not openly denounce instances of anti-Jewish sentiments on their campuses. Asserting the importance of clear and robust standpoints, Portnoy shared with Fox Business, ‘It’s not just about freedom of expression, there are lines that can’t be crossed when it endangers others. It’s about instilling basic decency.’
Portnoy reiterated, ‘If you fail to denounce genocide – regardless of which group of people is targeted, then you’re not fit to hold a leadership position.’ His statements carry an inference, suggesting that university leaders like Harvard’s Claudine Gay and MIT’s Sally Kornbluth should reconsider their roles. These comments also came amid news of the University of Pennsylvania’s President, Liz Magill, stepping down due to increasing pressure from donors and the White House post her testimony.
Portnoy was assertive during his interview with Fox Business on Tuesday, stating that these universities’ leaders have proved that they are not suited for positions of influence. At this time, UPenn’s Liz Magill is the only one who has stepped down from her role.
In the midst of these events, it was revealed that Harvard’s president, Claudine Gay, would retain her position, despite reportedly losing over $1 billion in donor contributions following her unsettling congressional testimony addressing hate crimes targeting Jews.
Expressing his disdain for the university leaders’ behavior during the congressional testimony, Portnoy stated, ‘The actions displayed by these deans and presidents were repulsive. I can’t comprehend their testimony.’ In response to questions about preserving free speech, Portnoy queried, ‘Would it be acceptable for Hitler to repeatedly express a desire to annihilate all Jews until the deed was committed? I would argue it’s not.’
While Portnoy made it clear he will not hire graduates from these three universities in the foreseeable future, it’s worth noting that the present employees of Barstool Sports include two Harvard graduates: Sam Bozoian, a former hockey player, and Francis Ellis, a former lacrosse player. As Portnoy elucidated, ‘They’re not affected by my current hiring stance.’
Anguish and disbelief over the recent congressional testimony were evident last week when Portnoy shared a clip from the potent testimony on Instagram. In his caption, Portnoy expressed his fury and frustration over the testimonies illustrated in the video. The video has resonated profoundly with viewers, garnering over 10 million hits on the social media platform in just a week’s time.
Following the controversial testimony, Harvard reported that despite the backlash, President Claudine Gay would remain in her job. Portnoy identified the testimony as a blatant display of ‘hate speech.’
He further emphasized that applicants from these schools would not be considered for recruitment unless significant administrative changes are effected. He also called on other businesses to follow suit, encouraging a wider rejection of such complacency.
In terms of these progressive steps, Portnoy’s concern is not limited to applicants of Jewish origin, but extends to all graduates from these institutions until the Deans reconsider their positions. He expressed deep consternation over administrators from well-regarded American universities refraining from condemning the advocacy of Jewish genocide within their campuses.
Continuing his critical commentary, Portnoy remarked, ‘There is a disturbing call for the extermination of Jewish people on these campuses – which equates to a call for the murder of people like me, my parents, my entire family. And the heads of these institutions decline to categorize this as hate speech within their jurisdiction.’ He pointed out how Jewish students appeared to be the only minority on campus who could be openly targeted with threats of violence and extermination without immediate expulsion or legal repercussions.
Portnoy felt compelled to share the testimony clip on Instagram to ensure it received as much visibility as possible. Within a week of its posting, the video attracted over 10 million views, affirming that his message found a wide audience.
However, the concern among Jewish students at UPenn goes deeper, insisting that high-level resignations like that of Magill and Chairman Scott Bok are insufficient to ensure their safety following recent antisemitic incidents. Students are urging for more transformative changes within the institution. One student, junior Akiva Berkowitz, said, ‘One phase is over, but much is left to be done. This should not be viewed as the conclusion.’
Similar sentiments were echoed by sophomore Jack Cohen, who expressed his discomfort even with the resignations of Magill and Bok in place. Demanding more action, Cohen expressed, ‘We need to see real change. It’s about feeling more secure and more supported in our own university.’
Portnoy’s stance and the wide-reaching impact of his Instagram post highlight the urgent need for educational institutions to establish and uphold a consistent, strong stance against antisemitic sentiments. Institutions of higher learning are expected to maintain a learning environment that promotes mutual respect, tolerance, and safety for all students, irrespective of their background.
The ongoing situation serves as a stern reminder to academic leaders about the significant role they play in shaping their institution’s culture – the need to stand firm against any form of bigotry and promote an environment conducive to learning for everyone. As the world watches the developing situation, Portnoy continues fueling this conversation about responsibility, leadership, and respect.