Harvard president to remain on job after anger over testimony on antisemitism

 Harvard President Claudine Gay will remain in her role, with the university’s top governing board on Tuesday voicing its support for her following days of backlash and calls for her removal after recent testimony at a hearing on antisemitism on college campuses.

“In this tumultuous and difficult time, we unanimously stand in support of President Gay,” Harvard’s board said in a statement early Tuesday.

Gay has faced intense criticism and calls for her removal from some in recent days after the Dec. 5 hearing before a House panel, particularly after she and two other presidents would not say directly at the time whether calls for the genocide of Jews would violate their university’s code of conduct. Gay later apologized and clarified her remarks, saying such calls “are vile, they have no place at Harvard, and those who threaten our Jewish students will be held to account.”

Gay also has seen support in recent days. This week, faculty members and alumni signed letters in support of the president and called on university leaders to defend the university’s independence and resist political interference. A petition calling for her removal also circulated.

Gay and the presidents of the University of Pennsylvania and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology took questions from lawmakers at the recent hearing about how they handle antisemitic behavior. The schools and others have faced allegations they have allowed antisemitism to run rampant on their campuses since the eruption of war in Israel and Gaza on Oct. 7 inflamed campus tensions.

Liz Magill, the Penn president, resigned Saturday after condemnation of her testimony during the hearing. Like Gay, Magill would not say that calling for the genocide of Jews necessarily violated campus rules on speech, instead saying “It is a context-dependent decision.”

Asked the same question, Gay told lawmakers such speech would be “at odds with the values of Harvard” and, if “speech crosses into conduct, that violates our policies.” Following her remarks, more than 70 members of Congress signed a letter calling for her resignation — and the House Committee on Education and the Workforce opened an investigation into the learning environment at Harvard.

Gay later apologized for her remarks in an interview with the Harvard Crimson, the student newspaper, saying “Threats to our Jewish students … have no place at Harvard and will never go unchallenged.”

Gay has been at Harvard since 2006 and served as dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences before she became president in July. She is the first Black person to hold the job.

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