Harvard President Faces Pressure To Resign Following House Testimony

In the wake of a disastrous congressional hearing during which the heads of three prominent universities refused to directly condemn antisemitism by students, one of those individuals — University of Pennsylvania President Liz Magill — has already resigned.

Pressure continues to mount for the other two, Harvard University President Claudine Gay and Massachusetts Institute of Technology President Sally Kornbluth, to step down, and reports indicate the former could be forced out as soon as this week. 

The Harvard Corporation was scheduled to meet on Monday, in part to discuss whether Gay should remain at the helm of the Ivy League university. In addition to her widely denounced performance on Capitol Hill, new allegations surfaced over the weekend that she might have plagiarized portions of her PhD dissertation.

Gay’s response to questioning from U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) last week included her inability to assert that calls on the Harvard campus for “the genocide of Jews” violate the school’s code of conduct, insisting that it “depends on the context.”

Stefanik and Rep. Kevin Kiley (R-CA), both of whom graduated from Harvard, have called for Gay’s resignation. Rabbi David Wolpe, who had served on a Harvard advisory group opposing antisemitism, referenced her remarks as a factor in his decision to step down.

Even the Biden administration chimed in following the hearing, issuing a statement calling it “unbelievable that this needs to be said: Calls for genocide are monstrous and antithetical to everything we represent as a country.”

Gay issued an apology of sorts, blaming the “extended, combative exchange” with lawmakers for her inability to condemn rampant antisemitism among Harvard students. 

“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,” she said.

The mea culpa was not enough to assuage her many critics, however, including longtime Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz.

In an op-ed published this week, he wrote: “These university leaders failed a basic test of moral clarity when they couldn’t bring themselves to uphold the same standard for Jewish students that they would for any other group on campus.”

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