Black Harvard Students Call Claudine Gay's Departure 'Devastating'

After the first Black president in Harvard’s history left in the midst of being accused of plagiarism, Black students there note the harm caused.

In the aftermath of Dr. Claudine Gay resigning as the first Black president of Harvard after six months, the impact of her departure is still being felt on campus.

According to local station WBTS, Black students have described Gay’s resignation as “devastating” and because of how they feel she was treated, are questioning their place at the Ivy League institution.

“For her to no longer be there, I’m devastated,” said senior RuQuan Brown. "Devastated, because I've seen so many Black leaders be publicly humiliated, ostracized and, some would even say, publicly lynched.”

Kyla Golding, another senior, wrote a column in the Harvard Crimson, the school’s student publication, following Gay’s resignation where she critiqued the way of treatment that Black women are subject to in the world of academia.

“The resignation of Claudine Gay is a heart-wrenching display that at the mountaintop for the Black woman, there is no promised land. No liberation, no forgiveness, no love, no protection,” Golding wrote.

“At the mountaintop, the world robs the Black woman of her breath such that the only option is to let the suffocation kill her or to let it kill her dreams,” Golding continued.

Dr. Claudine Gay is now the former president of Harvard University.

Harvard University President Claudine Gay Resigns

While Brown and Golding acknowledged that Gay’s performance to Congress was subpar and her academic papers were not properly sourced, the attacks on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives and arguing that her hiring was not because of her qualifications was racist and misogynist.

“This is the life of a Black leader so of course I understand, sympathize, and empathize,” Brown said. “Why do I need to respond to someone who's sitting at home on their couch – probably without a degree – making comments about me and where I am? I don't need to prove to anybody anything.”

Gay first fell under intense scrutiny for her remarks during a House Education Committee hearing where she along with then-president of the University of Pennsylvania, Elizabeth Magill, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology president Sally Kornbluth faced questions regarding reports of antisemitism on their campuses when pro-Palestinian students staged demonstrations in response to the Israel-Hamas War.

Billionaire hedge fund manager Bill Ackman became one of the leading critics of Gay and publically lobbied for her ouster saying DEI programs are misguided because they seek to achieve "equality of outcome, not equality of opportunity."

“DEI is racist because reverse racism is racism, even if it is against white people (and it is remarkable that I even need to point this out). Racism against white people has become considered acceptable by many not to be ractively, it is deemed acceptable racism,” Ackman wrote in his 4,000-word post on X (formerly Twitter). “While this is, of course, absurd, it has become the prevailing view in many universities around the country.”

Coming to the defense of Gay and fighting against the constant assaults on DEI, Rev. Al Sharpton and the National Action Network organized a protest in front of Ackman’s New York City Office in early January.

“This issue is not just about what they did to the president of Harvard University. It’s about the use [of her] as a scapegoat to fight DEI,” Sharpton said. “We would not have to have DEI if we wouldn't have D-E-N-Y. We were denied. DEI was to make up for the denial historically of Blacks, of women, of gays, Latinos, and Asians.”

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