Ross Stevens, the founder and CEO of Stone Ridge Asset Management, is retracting a donation to the University of Pennsylvania, now valued at approximately $100 million. This move is in response to the university's perceived mishandling of antisemitism on campus and the contentious testimony given by Penn's president.
The original donation, made in 2017, was in the form of partnership units in Stone Ridge, intended to support the creation of a financial innovation center at Penn. However, Stevens' legal team has informed the university that it breached the terms of Stone Ridge's limited partnership agreement by not complying with anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policies, Axiosreports.
The letter stated that Stevens and Stone Ridge "are appalled by the University’s stance on antisemitism on campus."
It added that Penn’s "permissive approach to hate speech calling for violence against Jews and laissez faire attitude toward harassment and discrimination against Jewish students would violate any policies of rules that prohibit harassment and discrimination based on religion, including those of Stone Ridge."
The situation was further exacerbated by remarks from UPenn President Liz Magill during her testimony before the House Education and Workforce Committee. Magill stated that the classification of antisemitic chants and demands for the genocide of Jewish people as prohibited speech on campus is reliant on the context. She noted that such expressions would breach Penn’s policies against bullying and harassment only if they were "directed, pervasive," and "severe."
Stevens and Stone Ridge, in their letter, pointed out that Magill's testimony, along with her later clarifications on social media, appeared to acknowledge that such antisemitic statements would indeed constitute a breach of Penn's policies on harassment and discrimination.
"President Magill’s December 6, 2023 post on X admitted as much, when she belatedly acknowledged — only after her Congressional testimony went viral and demands for her termination amplified — that calls for genocide of the Jewish people constitute harassment and discrimination," the letter read.
Facing criticism, Magill released a video on Wednesday clarifying her position. She explained that her comments during the hearing were centered on university policies and the constitutional right to free speech. However, she emphasized her view that "a call for genocide of Jewish people is threatening, deeply so."
She stated, "In my view, it would be harassment or intimidation," adding that t Penn’s campus policies should be "clarified and evaluated" and that she’s "committed to a safe, secure, and supportive environment so all members of our community can thrive. We can, and we will, get this right."
Stevens' correspondence with Penn suggested that he and Stone Ridge might reconsider the decision to retract his donation, but only if the university appoints a new individual to succeed Magill as president.
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