Harvard president won’t lose job over Congress row

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Harvard president won’t lose job over Congress row

Harvard University says its president, Claudine Gay, will keep her job despite mounting controversy over her appearance before Congress last week.

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Harvard University says its president, Claudine Gay, will keep her job despite mounting controversy over her appearance before Congress last week.

Dr Gay was facing pressure to step down after she failed to say whether students calling for the genocide of Jewish people would be disciplined.

But in a letter over the weekend nearly 700 staff members rallied behind her.

In a statement on Tuesday, the school’s board said it was “reaffirm[ing] our support” for her leadership.

“Our extensive deliberations affirm our confidence that President Gay is the right leader to help our community heal and to address the very serious societal issues we are facing,” said the Harvard Corporation, the highest governing board at the university.

“In this tumultuous and difficult time, we unanimously stand in support of President Gay,” the 13-member board added.

The news Dr Gay will remain as president comes just days after the head of the University of Pennsylvania, Elizabeth Magill, said she would resign after facing a similar backlash over her own Congressional testimony.

Dr Gay testified alongside Ms Magill and Massachusetts Institute of Technology president Sally Kornbluth at a House of Representatives hearing on antisemitism last week.

During tense questioning from Republican Congresswoman Elise Stefanik, Dr Gay said she believed calls for the genocide of Jews were abhorrent, but said whether it would constitute a violation of Harvard’s code of conduct regarding bullying and harassment depended on the context.

Claudine Gay testified before Congress last week alongside presidents of the University of Pennsylvania and MIT

In an interview with Harvard’s campus newspaper, the Crimson, shortly after, she apologized.

“When words amplify distress and pain, I don’t know how you could feel anything but regret,” she said.

In its statement, the Harvard Corporation said calls for genocide were “despicable” and added that Dr Gay’s initial statement “should have been an immediate, direct, and unequivocal condemnation”.

But, the school noted Harvard’s president had apologised for how she handled her testimony before Congress.

“Harvard’s mission is advancing knowledge, research, and discovery that will help address deep societal issues and promote constructive discourse, and we are confident that President Gay will lead Harvard forward toward accomplishing this vital work,” the board said.

Nearly 700 faculty members signed a petition over the weekend asking Harvard to “resist political pressures that are at odds with Harvard’s commitment to academic freedom” and keep Dr Gay as president.

Meanwhile, more than 70 lawmakers, mostly Republicans, had called on Dr Gay to resign, claiming her answers at the hearing were “abhorrent”.

Appointed in July, she is the university’s first black president in its 368-year history.

Source: BBC

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