Harvard President Claudine Gay is expected to remain in her post despite an outcry over her unsatisfactory responses to antisemitism on campus and alleged plagiaristic conduct.
Gay’s congressional testimony last week on the university’s response to anti-Semitic protests sparked an intense backlash and she has since been credibly accused of plagiarizing large sections of her Ph.D. thesis and other writings.
Monday night, the Harvard Corporation, the university’s highest governing body, met to decide Gay’s fate. The board issued a statement of support for the academic, Tuesday morning, Fox News reported.
“As members of the Harvard Corporation, we today reaffirm our support for President Gay’s continued leadership of Harvard University. Our extensive deliberations affirm our confidence that President Gay is the right leader to help our community heal and to address the very serious societal issues we are facing,” the Corporation said.
On December 5, Gay, University of Pennsylvania President Liz Magill and Massachusetts Institute of Technology President Sally Kornbluth appeared before the House Committee on Education and the Workforce and each were grilled about how they’ve handled the explosion of antisemitism on their respective campuses since the October 7 Hamas terrorist attack in Israel.
Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) asked the three if calls for the genocide of Jewish people during pro-Palestinian protests on their campuses qualified as bullying or harassment under their respective school codes of conduct.
“At Harvard, does calling for the genocide of Jews violate Harvard’s rules of bullying and harassment?” Stefanik asked Gay.
“It can be, depending on the context,” Gay responded.
When pressed to answer yes or no to the question, Gay equivocated.
“Antisemitic speech when it crosses into conduct that amounts to bullying, harassment, intimidation – that is actionable conduct and we do take action,” Gay said.
“So the answer is yes, that calling for the genocide of Jews violates Harvard code of conduct, correct?” Stefanik asked.
“Again, it depends on the context,” Gay said.
“It does not depend on the context. The answer is yes and this is why you should resign,” Stefanik declared. “These are unacceptable answers across the board.”
The President of @Harvard cannot answer the basic question:
“Does calling for the genocide of Jews violate Harvard’s rules regarding bullying and harassment?”
She literally cannot just say YES. The only acceptable answer is YES. pic.twitter.com/iXkNfv8pun
— Rep. Elise Stefanik (@RepStefanik) December 5, 2023
Magill and Kornbluth gave similar answers during the hearing, “outraging Jewish groups, prominent alumni and bipartisan lawmakers who demanded that each university chief resign immediately,” Fox reported.
Multiple congressmen pointed out that all three of the Ivy League universities have historically had no problem cracking down on nonviolent, but politically incorrect speech that offended woke sensibilities, including assertions that sex is biological, racial preferences are harmful, and Joe Biden’s open-borders immigration policies are bad for the country.
Reps. Jake Auchincloss (D-Mass.) and Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) published a joint statement on December 6 pointing out Harvard’s hypocrisy on free speech. “Harvard ranks last out of 248 universities for support of free speech,” the Democrats said. “But when it comes to denouncing anti-Semitism, suddenly the university has anxieties about the First Amendment. It rings hollow.”
— Rep. Jake Auchincloss 🟧 (@RepAuchincloss) December 6, 2023
Magill stepped down from her post at the University of Pennsylvania under pressure from donors, but the governing boards of Harvard and MIT have stood by their embattled presidents.
Gay did apologize for her comments following the hearing, saying she “failed to convey what is my truth.”
“I got caught up in what had become at that point, an extended, combative exchange about policies and procedures,” Gay said in a statement. “What I should have had the presence of mind to do in that moment was return to my guiding truth, which is that calls for violence against our Jewish community — threats to our Jewish students — have no place at Harvard and will never go unchallenged. Substantively, I failed to convey what is my truth.”
Meanwhile, conservative journalists Chris Brunet and Christopher Rufo investigated Gay’s past writings and discovered “multiple sections of her Ph.D. thesis” were plagiarized, in violation of Harvard’s policies on academic integrity. Incredibly, Gay “is listed as the top authority in Harvard Divinity School’s student handbook, which clearly states the rules for plagiarism, ” Rufo reported on Monday.
NEW: Claudine Gay is listed as the top authority in Harvard Divinity School's student handbook, which clearly states the rules for plagiarism. Claudine Gay's dissertation fails to meet this standard. Her work violates the exact rules that she set for her students. pic.twitter.com/MFIN8uyJy6
— Christopher F. Rufo ⚔️ (@realchrisrufo) December 11, 2023
Harvard Crimson reviewed plagiarism charges against Gay and wrote: “Some paragraphs & sentences [are] nearly identical to other work &lacking citations. Some appear to violate Harvard’s current policies around plagiarism & academic integrity.”
On Monday, the National Association of Scholars called on Harvard to remove Gay as president of the university.
The group said Gay’s “shoddy professional work,” “record of plagiarism,” and “promotion of racist policies” justified he ouster, Rufo reported on X.
BREAKING: The National Association of Scholars calls on Harvard to remove Claudine Gay as president of the university. The esteemed group notes Gay's "shoddy professional work," "record of plagiarism," and "promotion of racist policies." Momentum is building. pic.twitter.com/F3Nz6hUex6
— Christopher F. Rufo ⚔️ (@realchrisrufo) December 11, 2023
Bill Ackman, a billionaire hedge fund manager and a Harvard alumnus took a lead role in calling for the firings of the three University presidents. In a post on X, Monday, he claimed to know why the Harvard was reluctant to fire Gay.
“I have been told now by two reporters that one of the factors that made it challenging for the @Harvard board to fire Gay was that they were concerned it would look like they were kowtowing to me,” Ackman wrote.
“In other words, the reporters explained, quoting the trustees: ‘Had Bill just stopped tweeting, we would have come to the right answer.’ So much for Veritas,” he added.
In other words, the reporters explained, quoting the trustees:
“Had Bill just stopped tweeting, we would have come to the right answer.”
So much for Veritas.
— Bill Ackman (@BillAckman) December 12, 2023
The Harvard Corporation acknowledged in its statement that the university’s initial response to calls for genocide should have been “an immediate, direct, and unequivocal condemnation,” but pointed out that Gay had apologized for her equivocating testimony.
“Calls for genocide are despicable and contrary to fundamental human values. President Gay has apologized for how she handled her congressional testimony and has committed to redoubling the University’s fight against antisemitism,” the Corporation said.
“In this tumultuous and difficult time, we unanimously stand in support of President Gay. At Harvard, we champion open discourse and academic freedom, and we are united in our strong belief that calls for violence against our students and disruptions of the classroom experience will not be tolerated,” the Corporations said. “Harvard’s mission is advancing knowledge, research, and discovery that will help address deep societal issues and promote constructive discourse, and we are confident that President Gay will lead Harvard forward toward accomplishing this vital work.”
In a statement Tuesday, Stefanik blasted Harvard’s decision to support Gay after her “morally bankrupt testimony.”
“There is a reason why the testimony at the Education and Workforce Committee garnered one billion views worldwide, and it’s because those university presidents made history by putting the most morally bankrupt testimony into the Congressional record,” the New York Congresswoman said. “And the world saw it.”
As a Harvard graduate, I’m reminded of Harvard’s motto: Veritas, which goes back, and it’s older than the founding of our country, it goes back to the 1640s. In addition, the motto was, ‘Veritas Christo et Ecclesiae,’ truth for Christ and the Church.
Larry Summers, who was president of Harvard when I was an undergrad, talked about the meaning of Veritas is divine truth, moral truth.
Let me be clear, Veritas does not depend on the context.
This is a moral failure of Harvard’s leadership and higher education leadership at the highest levels.
And the only change they have made to their code of conduct, where they failed to condemn calls for genocide of the Jewish people, the only update to the code of conduct is to allow a plagiarist as the president of Harvard.
Chris Rufo also released a statement Tuesday:
“During her tenure as dean, Claudine Gay required dozens of students to withdraw from the university for violating academic integrity standards, especially on plagiarism,” Rufo wrote on X. “Now, as president, the board has allowed her to flout those same rules. It’s pure hypocrisy, justified by DEI.”