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Will Claudine Gay follow Liz Magill's exit? Calls mount for Harvard president's resignation

Dec 11, 2023 03:12 PM IST

Harvard University President Claudine Gay faces mounting pressure and calls to resign following her remarks on genocide and handling of antisemitism.

Harvard University President Claudine Gay is facing mounting pressure to resign, with calls intensifying after privately-funded billboard trucks circled the campus on Sunday demanding her removal.

Claudine Gay, a professor who has led the prestigious US university since July 2023, was asked on December 5, 2023, whether calls for "genocide" against Jews would violate Harvard's code of conduct, to which she did not respond with a direct affirmative. (Photo by Kevin Dietsch / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP)(AFP)
Claudine Gay, a professor who has led the prestigious US university since July 2023, was asked on December 5, 2023, whether calls for "genocide" against Jews would violate Harvard's code of conduct, to which she did not respond with a direct affirmative. (Photo by Kevin Dietsch / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP)(AFP)

The trucks, emblazoned with the words "FIRE GAY" and accompanied by photos of Gay's recent congressional appearance, were seen driving around the campus and parked at the school's main gate. This action comes in the wake of the resignation of University of Pennsylvania President Liz Magill, who stepped down amid criticism for her handling of antisemitism on campus.

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Gay's appearance before Congress last week drew particular scrutiny. During a heated exchange with New York Rep. Elise Stefanik, Gay stated that calls for genocide would only qualify as harassment or bullying "depending on the context." This remark sparked outrage from many, including Stefanik who demanded that Gay and MIT President Sally Kornbluth "do the right thing" and follow Magill's lead.

ALSO READ| US Rep Elise Stefanik and Jared Moskowitz call for dismissal of Harvard, MIT, UPenn presidents in antisemitism Row

Responding to the growing pressure, an unidentified private funder is taking further action. A banner reading "HARVARD — STOP JEW HATRED" will be flown over the campus later this week.

"One down, two to go," the funder stated to Fox News, echoing the sentiments of Stefanik who warned of a potential "robust and comprehensive Congressional investigation" into the universities.

Gay faces calls for resignation

Gay's position has also been challenged from within the Harvard community. Rabbi David Wolpe, a prominent figure at the school, resigned from its antisemitism committee, citing Gay's "painfully inadequate" response to the issue. Wolpe characterized the situation at Harvard as "evil" and criticized the "ideology that works only along axes of oppression and places Jews as oppressors."

On the other hand billionaire investor Bill Ackman is intensifying his call for the resignation of Harvard University President Claudine Gay.

In a recent open letter, Ackman emphasized, "In her short tenure as President, Claudine Gay has done more damage to the reputation of Harvard University than any individual in our nearly 500-year history."

In an attempt to address the backlash, Gay issued an apology for her congressional testimony. "I am sorry. Words matter," she stated.

ALSO READ| UPenn's Liz Magill faces criticism over antisemitism testimony, Wharton Board calls for change

However, the apology appears insufficient to quell the growing demands for her resignation. The Harvard Corporation and the Board of Overseers met on Sunday to discuss the intensifying situation and consider whether the school should issue a public statement.

With the pressure mounting and calls for action escalating, it remains to be seen whether Gay will remain in her position as Harvard President.

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