Has Harvard president Gay really resigned over plagiarism accusations?

Harvard president Claudine Gay resigned from her role after being in office for 6 only months. 

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Harvard University President Claudine Gay testifies before a House Education and The Workforce Committee hearing titled "Holding Campus Leaders Accountable and Confronting Antisemitism" on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., December 5, 2023. REUTERS/Ken Cedeno

Facing several allegations of plagiarism for her academic work, Gay, the first black to attain the presidential position in Harvard’s history, has announced her resignation following pressure from Harvard’s Jewish community and some members of Congress over her comments at the Dec. 5 congressional hearing.

Gay, former University of Pennsylvania President Liz Magill and Massachusetts Institute of Technology President Sally Kornbluth testified before a U.S. House of Representatives committee on Dec. 5 about a rise in antisemitism on college campuses following the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas war in October.

The trio declined to give a definitive “yes” or “no” answer to a question by U.S. Republican Representative Elise Stefanik as to whether calling for the genocide of Jews would violate their schools’ codes of conduct regarding bullying and harassment, saying they had to balance it against free-speech protections.

Citing dissatisfaction with their testimony, more than 70 U.S. lawmakers signed a letter demanding that the governing boards of the three universities strip the presidents of their position.

In a statement on Tuesday, the Harvard corporation accepted Gay’s resignation “with sorrow” however, the members of the Harvard Corporation expressed their view in a letter to the community on Tuesday that the first Black president in Harvard’s 388-year history had been subject to racist attacks. 

Despite the controversy around Gay, the Harvard Corporation has emphasised her resilience amid “racist vitriol”. It also said an independent review of Gay’s academic work found out that she had not committed research misconduct and has submitted several corrections for citation errors in recent weeks.

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