‘Saturday Night Live’ Cold Open Skewers University Presidents For Their Evasive Answers At House Antisemitism Hearing

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Just hours after Liz Magill resigned as president of the University of Pennsylvania over the evasive answers she and two other academic leaders gave in a testimony at a House hearing this week, the three were being mocked on the Saturday Night Live cold open.

So was Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY), the Trump-supporting congresswoman whose queries nevertheless triggered a bipartisan furor directed at university presidents, who have been faced with weeks of protests on their campuses over the Israel-Gaza war. In clips that went viral this week, Stefanik asked whether someone calling “for the genocide of Jews” would violate the schools’ code of conduct. The university presidents did not answer “yes” or “no” and instead gave nuanced responses.

In the SNL skit, staged as C-SPAN coverage, the three gave even more opaque answers.

As an amped up MAGA star, Chloe Troast’s Stefanik shouts at the university presidents, “screaming questions at these women like I’m Billy Eichner.”

“Yes or no! Is calling for the genocide of Jews against the code of conduct for Harvard?” she asks.

“Well, it depends on the context,” answers Ego Nwodim’s Dr. Claudine Gay, the president of Harvard.

Stefanik replies, “That can’t be your answer: UPenn lady, same question, yes or no?”

Heidi Gardner’s Magill answers, “Well, we are serious about stopping all forms of hatred, antisemitism, Islamophobia.”

Stefanik chides her for the answer, then turns to Dr. Sally Kornbluth, president of MIT, and poses the question to her. “And keep in mind, if you don’t say yes, you are going to make me look good, which is really, really hard to do. So I will ask you straight up. Do you think genocide is bad?”

“Could I submit an answer in writing at a later date?” Chloe Fineman’s Kornbluth answers.

Then, suprised, Stefanik says, “Am I winning this hearing? Somebody pinch me!”

The three university presidents express relief when Stefanik’s time is up, but then another member of the committee yields his time back to her.

Stefanik embraces the moment. “I am here today because hate speech has no place on college campuses. Hate speech belongs in Congress, on Elon Musk’s Twitter, in private dinners with my donors and in public speeches with my husband, Donald Trump.”

The hearing goes on for a bit, as the academics continue to give nuanced answers to questions, even to Rep. Mark Takano (D-CA), played by Bowen Yang.

“To clear things up, what does violate the code of conduct at your schools. What about if someone on campus yelled, ‘I poisoned the water supply’?” he asks.

Gay answers, “If they poisoned it with diversity, that could be wonderful.”

“Diverse water. It sounds delicious,” Magill responds, as the skit skewers DEI.

Later, a frustrated Stefanik asks, “Can you take a moral stance on anything? Can anyone here say yes to a single question?”

There is someone: the president of the University of Phoenix online (Kenan Thompson), who also is at the hearing and insists that “I am willing to say yes to anything.”

“See, see, finally. A real president of a real university,” Stefanik says.

“That’s actually our school motto: U of P: We are a real university,” he answers.

“And will you promise to eliminate all antisemitism from your campus?” Stefanik asks.

Then, he hedges. “My campus is the internet. Antisemitism is kind of our most popular major and our mascot is porn.”

Stefanik asks, “Okay, well then will you offer a course explaining why antisemitism is wrong?”

He answers, “Lady, we will offer a course on anything. The only mandatory courses we have are how to log in to the University of Phoenix online, and how to set up autopay.”

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