Letter From America

Marion McKeone: US universities learn that the $60bn they get from wealthy donors can come at a high price

There’s no such thing as a free lunch, as US colleges are discovering, with some donors demand sackings over anti-Israeli sentiment on campus

Donors demanded that Claudine Gay, Harvard’s first black and female president, resign over a student petition blaming Israel for the October 7 attack by Hamas

Should influence be sold to the highest bidder in academia, regardless of their beliefs or motives? Where is the line between influence and coercion? America’s universities have faced hard questions over the past several weeks as Hamas’s attack on Israel on October 7, and the retaliation that followed, continue to reverberate and unsettle communities.

Last year, corporations, government agencies and wealthy individuals donated a staggering $60 billion to America’s third-level learning institutions – most of ...