Claudine Gay, president of Harvard University, announced her resignation Tuesday, January 2, following accusations of plagiarism and criticism of her testimony during a congressional hearing, during which she did not unable to unequivocally state that calls for Jewish genocide on campus would constitute a violation of the institution’s conduct policy.

Ms. Gay announced her departure, which came just months after taking office, in a letter to the Harvard community. “It has become clear that it is in Harvard’s best interest for me to resign so that our community can navigate this period of extraordinary challenge with a focus on the institution rather than any individual,” she said. said in a statement sent Tuesday. It has been painful to have my commitment to fighting hate and upholding scientific rigor doubted – two core values ​​that are fundamental to who I am – and frightening to be subjected to personal attacks and threats fueled by racial animosity. »

She called on the Harvard community to “fight prejudice and hatred in all its forms, create a learning environment in which the dignity of all people is respected, and affirm [their] enduring commitment to open inquiry and free expression in the search for truth. »

“You should resign.”

The presidents of Harvard, MIT and the University of Pennsylvania were criticized in December for their legal responses to a series of questions from New York State Rep. Elise Stefanik, who asked whether “the call for genocide of the Jews” violated the institutions’ code of conduct. The three presidents had been summoned before the Republican-led House Education and Labor Committee to respond to accusations that universities were failing to protect Jewish students, amid growing fears of anti-Semitism around the world since the start of the war between Israel and Hamas.

Claudine Gay then replied: “It can, depending on the context”, before adding: “If it is directed against a person. » She clarified: “When anti-Semitic rhetoric turns into behavior amounting to intimidation and harassment (…), we take action. » “It does not depend on the context, the answer is yes and that is why you should resign,” the elected Republican told him at the end of the exchange.

Ms. Gay later apologized, telling the student newspaper The Crimson that she had been drawn into a heated exchange during the parliamentary committee hearing and had failed to properly denounce threats of violence to against Jewish students. “What I should have had the presence of mind to do at that moment was to return to the truth that guides me, which is that the calls for violence against our Jewish community – the threats against our Jewish students – have no place at Harvard and will never go unanswered,” she said.

The episode marred the start of Ms. Gay’s tenure at Harvard — she became president in July — and sowed discord on campus. The parliamentary committee announced that it would investigate the disciplinary policies and procedures in effect at Harvard, MIT and Penn. Separate federal civil rights investigations have already been opened at Harvard, Penn and several other universities following complaints filed with the U.S. Department of Education.