Harvard’s President Resigns in Wake of Comments about Antisemitism

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Harvard University’s president on Wednesday announced her resignation, less than a month after her comments at a House committee hearing about Jewish students sparked a firestorm.

Claudine Gay announced in a statement she was stepping down “with a heavy heart” and a “deep love for Harvard” so that “our community can navigate this moment of extraordinary challenge with a focus on the institution rather than any individual.”

Weeks earlier, the president of the University of Pennsylvania — M. Elizabeth Magill — also resigned in the wake of comments at the same committee hearing. 

Gay also faced charges of plagiarism in her prior work. 

In early December, the presidents of Harvard, Penn, and MIT appeared before the House Committee on Education and the Workforce to answer questions about antisemitism on campus. An exchange with U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik ignited a nationwide debate. It began when Stefanik asked Magill if the “calling for the genocide of Jews” violates “Penn’s rules or code of conduct.”

“If the speech turns into conduct, it can be harassment,” Magill answered.

Stefanik then asked the same question of Gay, referencing Harvard’s policies. 

“It can be, depending on the context,” Gay said, adding it can be if it is “targeted at an individual.”

Stefanik pushed back, asserting that Gay’s testimony was “dehumanizing” Jewish people and that “dehumanization is part of anti-semitism.”

Gay’s Wednesday statement did not address the controversy. 

The Harvard Jewish Alumni Alliance said her resignation concluded “an unfortunate chapter” in the university’s story.

“In her repeated failures to condemn calls for complete and utter obliteration of Jews, Claudine Gay tacitly encouraged those who sought to spread hate at Harvard, where many Jews no longer feel safe to study, identify, and fully participate in the Harvard community,” spokesperson Roni Brunn said in a statement, according to the New York Post. 

Photo Courtesy: ©Getty Images/Kevin Dietsch / Staff

Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chroniclethe Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.

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