Following the testy hearing last week in the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, where the presidents of Harvard, MIT, and the University of Pennsylvania were bludgeoned over claims that they allow “anti-Semitic” speech at their institutions, sparks continue to fly. Harvard’s Claudine Gay has been under the fiercest spotlight this week as members of the House Committee and others have pressured the Harvard Corporation—the top governing body of the institution—to ask for her resignation. University of Pennsylvania President Liz Magill already resigned last weekend.
The Harvard Corporation released a statement yesterday reaffirming their support for Gay: “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,” they wrote. “At Harvard, we champion open discourse and academic freedom, and we are united in our strong belief that calls for violence against our students and disruptions of the classroom experience will not be tolerated.”
This letter was preceded by immense support for Gay. Over 700 faculty signed a letter to the corporate board defending her, saying that her removal would be “at odds with Harvard’s commitment to academic freedom.” The faculty called on the Corporation to “defend the independence of the university,” and said that the “critical work of defending a culture of free inquiry in our diverse community cannot proceed if we let its shape be dictated by outside forces.”
Another letter by some 100 black Harvard faculty defended Gay, and also condemns the accusations that Gay only kept her post because of her gender and race as being “specious and politically motivated.”