Claudine Gay
Gay resigned as Harvard President AFP

Claudine Gay resigned as president of Harvard University on Tuesday following a turmoil-filled month that began with criticism to her answers in a congressional hearing about antisemitism in college campuses and continued with accusations of plagiarism in her academic work.

Calls for Gay's resignation began after she was unable to say unequivocally that calls for the genocide of Jews would violate Harvard's conduct policy. Fellow Ivy League president Liz Magill, from the University of Pennsylvania, resigned on December 9 after facing swift backlash for the same issue. MIT president Sally Kornbluth remains in her post.

Gay had received the support from authorities to avoid resigning. However, following the hearing, her academic career came under intense scrutiny, leading to revelations about different instances of alleged plagiarism in her doctoral dissertation from 1997.

The university's governing board, the Harvard Corporation, said initially that a review from Gay's work showed "a few instances of inadequate citation" but no evidence of research misconduct.

However, days later the body announced it had found additional examples of "duplicative language without appropriate attribution," adding that Gay would update the dissertation and request corrections.

According to Harvard's student outlet, The Harvard Crimson, Gay's was the shortest tenure in university history, lasting six months. University Provost Alan M. Garber '76 will serve as Harvard's interim president during a search for Gay's permanent successor, according to the Harvard Corporation.

Gay, who will return to the school faculty, issued a letter saying that it had been "distressing to have doubt cast on my commitments to confronting hate and to upholding scholarly rigor — two bedrock values that are fundamental to who I am — and frightening to be subjected to personal attacks and threats fueled by racial animus."

However, she added, "it has become clear that it is in the best interests of Harvard for me to resign so that our community can navigate this moment of extraordinary challenge."

In the congressional hearing, republican Congresswoman Elise Stefanik repeatedly asked Gay whether "calling for the genocide of Jews" would violate the college's code of conduct. She answered that it depended on the context, saying that when "speech crosses into conduct, that violates our policies."

Gay later apologized, telling The Harvard Crimson that she got caught up in a heating exchange. "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," Gay said.

The Associated Press reported that "The House committee announced days after the hearing that it would investigate the policies and disciplinary procedures at Harvard, MIT and Penn. Separate federal civil rights investigations were previously opened at Harvard, Penn and several other universities in response to complaints submitted to the U.S. Education Department."

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