Set up like a C-SPAN broadcast, the sketch mocked the college presidents’ evasive answers and “MAGA superstar” Rep. Elise Stefanik’s (R-N.Y.) political grandstanding.
Chloe Troast played Donald Trump loyalist Stefanik, who grilled the presidents of Harvard, MIT and the University of Pennsylvania over the rise in antisemitism on campuses since the Oct. 7 attacks on Israel.
“Antisemitism: Yay or nay?” screeched “SNL’s” version of Stefanik. “Yes or no: Is calling for the genocide of Jews against the code of conduct for Harvard?”
Playing Harvard President Claudine Gay, Ego Nwodim said it “depends on the context,” while Heidi Gardner, impersonating University of Pennsylvania President Elizabeth Magill, told congress, “We are serious about stopping all forms of hatred.”
Unsatisfied with their equivocations, Troast’s character reminded them, “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 by my work husband, Donald Trump.”
After California Democratic Rep. Mark Takano (played by Bowen Yang) failed to get any clarity with his questions, Kenan Thompson popped by playing the president of the online institution, University of Phoenix.
He couldn’t add much to the conversation when asked to condemn antisemitism on his campus, however.
“Well, my campus is the internet, so antisemitism is kind of our most popular major,” Thompson admitted. “And our mascot is porn.”
The cold open made a mockery of Tuesday’s congressional hearing, which prompted strong backlash from the public, university donors and politicians.
Though all three university leaders repeatedly condemned antisemitism during the 4-hour hearing, Magill and Gay both made statements clarifying their comments in the days following.
Magill apologized for leaning on UPenn’s policies protecting free speech in a video statement on Wednesday, saying, “I was not focused on, but I should have been, the irrefutable fact that a call for genocide of Jewish people is a call for some of the most terrible violence human beings can perpetrate. It’s evil — plain and simple.”
She announced her resignation on Saturday.