The Harvard board met on Monday to announce its “unanimously and unequivocally” support for President Claudine Gay, who was asked to step down after failing to state whether genocide against Jews is protected under free speech.
In a letter to school officials, the Executive Committee of Harvard University’s Alumni Association backed Gay’s stance on the issue.
“There is much work to be done to address the hatreds on campus and in our society,” the committee wrote. “We are confident President Gay will address antisemitism and other forms of hate effectively and courageously. We encourage the Fellows of Harvard College and Harvard University’s Board of Overseers to join us and issue a strong public pledge of support for our exceptional University President.”
Over 700 of the 2,300 Harvard faculty also showed support for the Harvard president, sending a signed letter to the board Sunday night, urging it to “support its leader.”
Gay faced major criticism after her congressional testimony on whether antisemitic comments were considered harassment and bullying on campus. In her testimony, Gay refused to condemn antisemitism or the call for genocide of Jews when questioned by Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY).
Instead, she said that those comments were considered a “freedom of expression.”
“We embrace a commitment to free expression and give a wide berth to free expression even of views that are objectionable, outrageous and offensive,” Gay told Stefanik.
Stefanik responded back by giving Gay Harvard’s track record on free speech.
“You and I both know that that is not the case,” Stefanik replied. “You are aware that Harvard ranked dead last when it came to free speech, are you not aware of that report?”
After the hearing, 74 lawmakers, led by Reps. Elise Stefanik and Jared Moskowitz (D-FL), sent a letter Friday to the members of the governing boards at Harvard University, along with the University of Pennsylvania and Massachusetts Institute of Technology calling for them to immediately dismiss their school presidents.
I am proud to lead a bipartisan letter with @RepMoskowitz and 72 of our colleagues to the members of the Governing Boards of @Harvard, @MIT, and @Penn demanding that their presidents be removed after this week's @EdWorkforceCmte hearing.
Read the full letter here. pic.twitter.com/IOPpNdNh34
— Rep. Elise Stefanik (@RepStefanik) December 8, 2023
Gay apologized for her comments in an interview last Thursday with The Harvard Crimson, the school paper.
“I am sorry,” she said. “Words matter.”
Harvard is one of 14 colleges currently being investigated by the Department of Education over complaints of antisemitism and Islamophobia.
— Rep. Elise Stefanik (@RepStefanik) December 11, 2023