Jewish organizations and Harvard students are lauding former Harvard president Claudine Gay’s resignation on Tuesday following mounting allegations of plagiarism and her mishandling of antisemitism on campus.
The Harvard Jewish Alumni Alliance, which represents thousands of former Jewish students, said Gay’s resignation concluded “an unfortunate chapter” in the prestigious Ivy League school’s near-400-year history.
“In her repeated failures to condemn calls for complete and utter obliteration of Jews, Claudine Gay tacitly encouraged those who sought to spread hate at Harvard, where many Jews no longer feel safe to study, identify, and fully participate in the Harvard community,” spokesperson Roni Brunn said in a statement.
Brunn said the organization hopes the next president will take “strong action” to combat antisemitism on campus to return Harvard “to its roots as a world-renowned center of learning and research rooted in civil discourse and academic integrity.”
Jeffrey Wiesenfeld, a Jewish activist who served 15 years as a trustee on the City University of New York’s governing board, had a more wry take, saying Gay’s resignation only came after numerous plagiarism accusations rather than “not for calling out the chanting of genocide to Jews by protesters at her campus.”
“It’s kind of like they didn’t get Al Capone for murder. They got him for tax evasion,” Wiesenfeld told The Post, referring to the notorious gangster.
Harvard’s provost, Dr. Alan Garber, will serve as interim president, the university announced. Gay, a Political Science professor since 2006, will remain a faculty member.
Alex Bernat, a junior at Harvard, told The Boston Globe he is optimistic that Gay’s resignation will help the school begin to tackle wider issues of antisemitism and academic integrity at the university.
The Jewish student said he has spoken with Garber, who was raised Jewish and he believe may “have a better understanding of what antisemitism is.”
”The next question we have to ask is how someone with such a shoddy record of scholarship was chosen as Harvard’s president,” Bernat told the paper.
Days before Gay stepped down, an article written by Harvard student opinion writers Brooks B. Anderson and Joshua A. Kaplan had also called for her resignation on campus website The Harvard Crimson.
After listing a qualities Harvard’s president should possess, they wrote: “In each of these respects, Gay has failed. The Harvard Corporation must find a leader who can do better.”
Sacha Roytman Dratwa, CEO of Combat Antisemitism Movement (CAM), said Gay’s resignation is “the first good decision Mrs. Gay and the Harvard Corporation have made” since a number of antisemitic incidents broke out on campus following Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on Israel.
“Harvard must deal with its antisemitism problem now, not only to protect its community but also to set the tone for its next president,” Dratwa said. He also urged Harvard to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s working definition of antisemitism as a guide for “assessing antisemitic incidents.”
Joseph Potasnik, the executive vice president of the New York Board of Rabbis, said Gay made “the right decision” but it “should have happened sooner.”
“There was a clear lack of leadership. Her resignation was warranted,” he said.
Wiesenfeld and others tipped their caps to Rep. Elise Stefanik, a Harvard alum who roasted Gay when she testified before Congress over allegations of antisemitism.
Stefanik, the House GOP Conference Chairwoman, on Tuesday vowed that Gay’s resignation is “just the beginning of reckoning.”
She called Gay’s brief six-month tenure a “disgrace” over “her failure to protect Jewish students or the just shredding of academic integrity in the university’s attempt to cover up her nearly 50 instances of plagiarism.”
Stefanik said Republicans on the House Education and Workforce Committee would continue its investigation into antisemitic incidents on college campuses.
Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NY), who chairs the committee, told The Boston Globe that the probe into the plagiarism allegations would also continue, telling the paper in a statement “the problems at Harvard are much larger than one leader.”