Fallout continues over the responses of three elite university presidents at a recent congressional hearing on antisemitism on college campuses in the aftermath of the Israel-Hamas conflict.
The New York Times reports that the Harvard Corporation, the body that could decide her future amid the controversy, planned to meet on Monday (Dec. 11) as prominent alumni, donors and politicians demand her ouster.
The House Education Committee held a public hearing Tuesday (Dec. 5) to question Gay, the then president of the University of Pennsylvania, Elizabeth Magill, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology president Sally Kornbluth.
Lawmakers, especially the Republicans on the committee, asked tough questions about their policies on handling antisemitism.
The university presidents equivocated in some of their responses when asked direct questions about whether school policies banned calling for the genocide of Jews.
“At Harvard, does calling for the genocide of Jews violate Harvard’s rules of bullying and harassment? Yes or no?” Rep. Elise Stefanik, a New York Republican, asked Gay.
“It can be, depending on the context,” Gay replied.
When pressed by Stefanik for a definitive answer, Gay said, “Antisemitic rhetoric, when it crosses into conduct that amounts to bullying, harassment, intimidation, that is actionable conduct, and we do take action.”
Unsatisfied, Stefanik pushed further, “So, the answer is yes, that calling for the genocide of Jews violates Harvard's code of conduct, correct?”
Gay answered, “Again, it depends on the context.”
The Harvard Crimson, the student newspaper, reports that Gay attempted to clarify her answers on Wednesday (Dec. 6) through Harvard’s official social media channels. But it was too late. The next day, Gay acknowledged that she made an error.
“I am sorry. Words matter,” Gay told The Crimson.
“When words amplify distress and pain, I don’t know how you could feel anything but regret,” she added.
Magill, also under pressure, resigned on Saturday.
“One down. Two to go,” Stefanik posted on social media after Magill’s resignation.
“In the case of @Harvard, President Gay was asked by me 17x whether calling for the genocide of Jews violates Harvard’s code of conduct. She spoke her truth 17x. And the world heard,” Stefanik continued.
But Gay has received a groundswell of support from her colleagues. More than 500 Harvard faculty members have signed a petition urging the Harvard Corporation not to force her to resign.
It called on the corporation to “resist political pressures that are at odds with Harvard’s commitment to academic freedom, including calls for the removal of President Claudine Gay.”
An Anti-Defamation League survey found 73 percent of Jewish college students experienced or witnessed antisemitism on their campus since the start of the academic year.
Shortly after the academic year began, Hamas, a Palestinian terrorist militant group that vows to wipe out Israel, launched a surprise assault, firing thousands of rockets into Israel on Oct. 7, killing at least 1,400 Israelis and kidnapping more than 240 people.
Israel responded with a devastating counter-offensive that has killed thousands of civilians.
On college campuses, protesters have often sided with the Palestinians. At Harvard, some protesters blamed President Barack Obama and previous presidents for contributing to the “genocide” of Palestinians because they have provided military aid to Israel.
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