Former Harvard University president says she was ousted by ‘lies, insults’

NEW YORK – Harvard University’s former president, following her resignation, said on Jan 3 that she made mistakes but insisted she was the target of a sustained campaign of lies and personal insults.

Professor Claudine Gay stepped down Jan 2 after coming under ferocious attack over plagiarism accusations and her response to pro-Palestinian demonstrations on campus amid the Israel-Hamas war.

“Those who had relentlessly campaigned to oust me since the fall often trafficked in lies and ad hominem insults, not reasoned argument,” she wrote in The New York Times.

“They recycled tired racial stereotypes about Black talent and temperament. They pushed a false narrative of indifference and incompetence.”

“It is not lost on me that I make an ideal canvas for projecting every anxiety about the generational and demographic changes unfolding on American campuses: a Black woman selected to lead a storied institution. Someone who views diversity as a source of institutional strength and dynamism.”

Prof Gay was criticised in recent months after reports surfaced alleging that she did not properly cite scholarly sources.

The most recent accusations came Jan 2, published anonymously in a conservative online outlet.

“Morally bankrupt testimony”

Prof Gay was also engulfed by scandal after she declined to say unequivocally whether calling for genocide of Jews would violate Harvard’s code of conduct, during testimony to Congress alongside the heads of MIT and the University of Pennsylvania in December.

Prof Gay, who made history as the first Black person to be president of Harvard, said she was targeted because she believed “that a daughter of Haitian immigrants has something to offer to the nation’s oldest university.”

Prof Gay, 53, was born in New York to Haitian immigrants and is a professor of political science.

Her downfall comes after the powerhouse university in Cambridge, Massachusetts’s governing Harvard Corporation had initially backed her after the public relations disaster of the congressional testimony.

But the body did criticize the university’s initial response to the Hamas Oct 7 attacks that Israel said killed 1,140 people inside Israel and saw around 240 people taken hostage.

Israel’s offensive has reduced much of Gaza to rubble and killed at least 22,313 people, according to Gaza’s health ministry.

The university’s governing Harvard Corporation said that Prof Gay had “shown remarkable resilience in the face of deeply personal and sustained attacks.”

The House Republican who challenged Prof Gay out during her testimony with the question about whether free speech extended to calling for genocide of Jews has now called for members of the Harvard Corporation to apologize.

“Neither the resignation from Claudine Gay nor the statement from the Harvard Corporation included any apology for the morally bankrupt testimony,” she wrote on social media. AFP

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