Harvard University’s first Black President Claudine Gay has resigned. On Jan. 2, Gay issued a statement to the Harvard Crimson.
“It is with a heavy heart but a deep love for Harvard that I write to share that I will be stepping down as president. This is not a decision I came to easily. Indeed, it has been difficult beyond words because I have looked forward to working with so many of you to advance the commitment to academic excellence that has propelled this great university across centuries. But, after consultation with members of the Corporation, it has become clear that it is in the best interests of Harvard for me to resign so that our community can navigate this moment of extraordinary challenge with a focus on the institution rather than any individual.”
Gay, who became Harvard’s first Black president last year, appeared at a House hearing last week that centered around Anti-Semitic views from some students on campus. She was joined by her counterparts at University of Pennsylvania and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y. pressed each president on the issues of antisemitism on campuses.
Gay responded by saying, “We embrace a commitment to free expression even of views that are objectionable, offensive, hateful — it’s when that speech crosses into conduct that violates our policies against bullying, harassment, intimidation.”
Some took issue with Gay’s response. Billionaire investor Bill Ackman used racial rhetoric by claiming Gay was only hired because of a DEI initiative.
Gay responded to her testimony by issuing an apology in Harvard’s newspaper The Crimson saying, “I got caught up in what had become at that point, an extended, combative exchange about policies and procedures. I failed to convey what is my truth.”
But Gay would receive overwhelming support from Harvard’s faculty as 700 members signed a letter urging administrators to resist any call for Gay to be removed from her position as president.
In the letter, faculty members wrote, “We urge you in the strong possible terms to defend the independence of the university and to resist political pressures that are at odds with Harvard’s commitment to academic freedom, including calls for the removal of President Claudine Gay.”
The news of Gay’s resignation has sparked outcry on social media.
One of the things I detest about social media is how it can instantaneously ruin people’s lives, careers and reputations.
Truth be damned. Context is nonexistent. Consequences never considered. #ClaudineGay
— Sophia A. Nelson (@IAmSophiaNelson) January 2, 2024
#Harvard President #ClaudineGay’s resignation raises troubling questions about the role of right-wing activists, Congressional MAGA extremists and donors in forcing her out. But she should have been unequivocal that there is no place for, or tolerance of, anti-semitism on campus. pic.twitter.com/FTSM25hYpR
— Marion McKeone (@marionmckeone) January 2, 2024
The news reports citing the impending resignation of #ClaudineGay documents a shameful moment in academe. If you need evidence of how Black people are viewed in the academy and elsewhere, you have your answer. #Shame
— Dr. Stephen G. Hall (@historianspeaks) January 2, 2024
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