Harvard President resigns amid antisemitism scandal

Harvard President Claudine Gay resigned from her position after her controversial congressional testimony about antisemitism on campus and allegations of plagiarism.

Following intense pressure for her resignation after her controversial congressional testimony about campus antisemitism, Claudine Gay stepped down from her role after a few months. Her tenure was the shortest in Harvard’s history. University of Pennsylvania President Liz Magill stepped down last month, reports The Jerusalem Post.

The heads of Harvard, MIT and the University of Pennsylvania said that „calling for the extermination of Jews” did not run counter to the code of conduct of their institutions. More than 70 US lawmakers signed a letter demanding that the governing boards of the three universities remove the presidents, citing dissatisfaction with their testimony.

Besides pressure from Harvard’s Jewish community and some members of Congress over her comments at the December 5 congressional hearing, she has also faced allegations of plagiarism for her academic work in recent months. According to a university spokesperson, Gay planned to submit corrections to her 1997 dissertation after a committee investigating plagiarism allegations against her found that she had made citation errors.

In a letter to the Harvard community, Gay said her decision to step down had been „difficult beyond words”, adding that „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.”

„Harvard must deal with its antisemitism problem now, not only to protect its community but also to set the tone for its next president. The university should officially adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s Working Definition of Antisemitism, use it as a guidepost for assessing antisemitic incidents, and hire a president who will embrace this approach. Staffing changes will accomplish nothing if the administration does not demonstrate that it takes antisemitism seriously,” said Combat Antisemitism Movement (CAM) CEO Sacha Roytman Dratwa in a statement.

While many have called for Gay’s resignation, many are saying this is just the first step of many needed to repair Harvard’s prestige and relationship with the Jewish community.