Kevin Dietsch Getty Images via Agence France-Presse “It is with a heavy heart but with a deep love for Harvard that I write to you to announce that I will be leaving my position as president,” Claudine Gay, 53, said in a resignation letter published Tuesday.
The president of the prestigious American university Harvard, Claudine Gay, announced her resignation on Tuesday, after accusations of plagiarism and a tense hearing in Congress on the fight against anti-Semitism on campus.
“It is with a heavy heart but with a deep love for Harvard that I write to announce that I will be stepping down as president,” Claudine Gay, 53, said in a resignation letter released Tuesday.< /p>
This political science professor — who in July became the first black president of Harvard University, located near Boston — has been under fire in recent weeks.
She was targeted by accusations of plagiarism linked to her university work, fueled by a conservative site, and by criticism linked to her responses, during a parliamentary hearing on the fight against anti-Semitism on campuses, to the elected official Republican Elise Stefanik, who likened some students' calls for an “Intifada” to incitement to “genocide against Jews in Israel and around the world.”
Since the bloody attack by Hamas in Israel on October 7, followed by deadly reprisals by the Israeli army in the Gaza Strip, the conflict has unleashed passions in the most renowned American universities.
Tuesday December 5, in a tense atmosphere, Claudine Gay and her counterparts from the University of Pennsylvania and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Elizabeth Magill and Sally Kornbluth, answered questions from elected officials for five hours of the House of Representatives.
When Ms. Stefanik asked whether “calling for the genocide of Jews violates Harvard's harassment policy, yes or no” ?, Ms. Gay responded, “It may, depending on the context,” before adding, ” If it's directed at a person. »
“If speech becomes action, it can become harassment,” Ms. Magill responded to the same question. “It’s a decision that depends on the context.”
Their responses, which went viral, caused an outcry all the way to the White House, whose spokesperson, Andrew Bates, said it was “incredible that this should be said: calls for genocide are monstrous” .
“It has been complicated to see doubt hover over my commitments to confronting hatred and respecting academic rigor… and frightening to be the subject of personal attacks and threats fueled by racism,” explained Claudine Gay in her resignation letter.
She becomes the second president of the Ivy League – which brings together eight elite universities – to resign. In December, Elizabeth Magill, of the University of Pennsylvania, resigned in the face of pressure.
More than 70 lawmakers, including two Democrats, as well as alumni and high-profile donors had called for Ms. Gay's departure. The president, however, received the support of the educational community and was retained in her position in mid-December.
Harvard University's governing body, which accepted Ms. Gay's resignation on Tuesday, praised her “remarkable resilience in the face of continuing and deeply personal attacks.”
“While part of this affair took place publicly, much of it took the form of vile and in some cases racist attacks against her via shameful emails and phone calls,” the institution said in a statement. press release.
Republican Elise Stefanik, for her part, described this resignation on the scandal of any university in history.”
Born in New York into a family of Haitian immigrants, Claudine Gay will have served the shortest presidency in the history of the university since its founding in Cambridge, near Boston, in 1636.