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Harvard faculty members sign letter in support of university president

Claudine Gay has faced pressure to resign after she gave a nuanced answer before Congress about antisemitic speech on campus.
Harvard faculty members sign letter in support of university president
Posted at 12:07 PM, Dec 11, 2023

Amid calls to resign, Harvard University President Claudine Gay is getting support from members of the university's faculty following her comments about antisemitic speech on campus. 

The Harvard Crimson reports that more than 650 university employees have signed a letter in support of Gay. 

The Harvard president apologized for her statements before Congress last week. When asked whether calling for the "genocide of Jews" violated university policy, Gay said it depends on the context. 

In an interview with the Harvard Crimson, Gay said she was sorry, noting that her "words matter."

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

In the letter to Harvard leadership, the faculty members urge the university to "resist political pressures that are at odds with Harvard’s commitment to academic freedom, including calls for the removal of President Claudine Gay.”

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While Gay's future at Harvard is uncertain, another university president who participated in the same congressional hearing decided to resign. 

Elizabeth Magill stepped down as president of the University of Pennsylvania on Saturday. Her nuanced answer to the same question about the "genocide of Jews" was met with the same outrage Gay has faced. 

In a video message, Magill attempted to clarify her original answer, which also referred to the context of the speech. Magill sad her response should have been focused on the "irrefutable fact that a call for genocide of Jewish people is a call for some of the most terrible violence human beings can perpetrate." She added that the university would begin a process of updating its policies about such speech. 

The president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Sally Kornbluth, also participated in last week's Congressional hearing. While she also offered a nuanced answer about antisemitic speech on campus, the MIT board has expressed support for her. 

"She has done excellent work in leading our community, including in addressing antisemitism, Islamophobia, and other forms of hate, all of which we reject utterly at MIT. She has our full and unreserved support," the board's chair said in a statement.

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