We tend to celebrate our firsts proudly within the Black community, and it was only six months ago that many were applauding as a community at the appointment of Claudine Gay as Harvard University’s first-ever Black president.
However, that all came to an end earlier today (January 2) with her resignation following some scathing accusations of antisemitism and even plagiarism.
BREAKING: Harvard University President Claudine Gay resigned from her position after six months in the role. Gay recently came under sharp public scrutiny over her handling of antisemitism on campus since the start of the Israel-Hamas war, as well as accusations of plagiarism. pic.twitter.com/vAhZaMT3rl
— CBS News (@CBSNews) January 2, 2024
In her resignation letter, available to read in full over at CNN Business, Gay states the decision wasn’t easy and that it’s been “difficult beyond words” to step down. However, as she states, “after consultation with members of the Corporation, 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 with a focus on the institution rather than any individual.” Although she doesn’t state in detail what led her to make an exit, all signs point towards the past few weeks that saw her in two separate controversies at once. Actually, CNN reports that Gay might’ve already been planning to resign even before the latest round of plagiarism allegations that came forth on Monday.
A more detailed breakdown below, via CNN:
“Gay was undone in part by an ongoing plagiarism scandal and a disastrous congressional hearing last month in which she and other university presidents failed to explicitly say calls for genocide of Jewish people constituted bullying and harassment on campus.
Tensions have surged on some college campuses following the October 7 terror attacks by Hamas against Israel. There have been hundreds of protests and counterprotests on college campuses, with some of them turning violent.
The faces and names of some students allegedly linked to anti-Israel statements were displayed on mobile billboards near the campuses of both Harvard and Columbia. Another Ivy League school, the University of Pennsylvania, alerted the FBI to violent antisemitic threats made against some faculty members.”
In regards to the plagiarisms claims — here’s where things get hilariously petty from a writer’s perspective! — Gay was literally cited for citation errors and even missing quotation marks in her published works. While things looked grim as an investigation proceeded — a Harvard subcommittee discovered “one replica of a missing citation or quotation mark that had already been identified in a published paper” — the Ivy League university ultimately concluded that Gay’s offense was minimal, stating via a spokesperson, “The members of the subcommittee and the Corporation concluded that Gay’s inadequate citations, while regrettable, did not constitute research misconduct.”
Still, a probe has now been widened by the US House Committee on Education and the Workforce to include Gay’s allegations of plagiarism “over a period of 24 years,” as Republican Committee Chair Virginia Foxx wrote in a letter. In the note dated December 20, Foxx boldly states, “An allegation of plagiarism by a top school official at any university would be reason for concern, but Harvard is not just any university. It styles itself as one of the top educational institutions in the country.”
In an ironic twist of fate, many of the allegations against Gay have been spearheaded by conservative activists. That could lead many to assume that being Black might be playing a bigger role in the backlash. At the same time, plagiarism at one of the most prestigious educational institutes should be taken quite seriously, right?
Take a look below at the debate erupting on social media in reaction to Claudine Gay stepping down as president of Harvard, ending a Black history moment that only lasted just over six months. Feel free to sound off with your own thoughts as well:
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