How Claudine Gay’s Harvard resignation reveals America’s deep racial divide

Harvard President Claudine Gay, University of Pennsylvania then-President Elizabeth Magill and MIT President Sally Kornbluth testify before Congress on Dec. 5, 2023. Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images/File


The resignation of Dr. Claudine Gay from her position as Harvard University’s president has revealed the deep racial divide that continues to exist in America. 

On Jan. 2, Gay issued her resignation after serving as Harvard’s first Black president in the school’s 387-year history. Her tenure only lasted six months.

Gay issued a statement saying, “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.”

Much of the fallout came following Gay’s controversial appearance in front of the House Committee on Education on Dec. 8 that centered around Anti-Semitic views from some students on campus. She was joined by her counterparts at University of Pennsylvania and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Gay’s answers were viewed as “too academic.” When asked if calling for the genocide of Jews would violate the universities’ code of conduct, Gay answered by saying, when “speech crosses into conduct, that violates our policies.”

She later clarified by issuing a statement that said, “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.”

However, the hearing was viewed by some as a no-win situation due to questioning by Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., a right-wing politician who has faced her own backlash for being a staunch Trump supporter. 

But unlike her counterparts at the University of Pennsylvania and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Gay faced criticism that went beyond her testimony. Right-wing figures used social media as a way to attack her credentials in academia. Billionaire investor Bill Ackman used racial rhetoric by claiming Gay was only hired because of a DEI initiative, disregarding her noted achievements in academia. 

Plagiarism accusations emerged against Gay. But the findings were mere attribution issues where Gay didn’t properly use quotation marks or paraphrase. The allegations were surfaced by Chris Rufo, a noted right-wing activist who has pushed the ending of the false concept of Critical Race Theory, which is not taught in high schools. 

The Washington Free Beacon reached out to David Canon, a person Gay is accused of plagiarizing, he responded by saying the he was not concerned with the passages that were used. 

But those who cheered Gay’s resignation used racial tropes to claim that Gay was only hired because she was Black

Vivek Ramaswamy said, “Claudine Gay’s rise to Harvard President was no doubt in part the result of affirmative action, but the more interesting dimension is how it reflects the rise of *bureaucrats* over intellectuals at top universities.”

To counter similar notions hinged on racism, Ibram Kendi issued a statement saying, “Racist mobs won’t stop until they topple all Black people from positions of power and influence who are not reinforcing the structure of racism. What these racist mobs are doing should be obvious to any reporter who cares about truth or justice as opposed to conflicts and clicks.”

Overall, Gay’s resignation has revealed America’s ongoing issues when it comes to race. When Black achievement remains an opponent for those who view it as a threat, Black failure becomes a conquest to those who see it as victory. 



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