- Harvard’s president apologizes for her statements about antisemitism on campus.
- Her testimony, along with that of the presidents of Penn and MIT, has been widely criticized.
- “I am sorry,” Claudine Gay told Harvard’s campus newspaper. “Words matter.”
University leaders are still in damage control amid the fallout of their much-criticized testimony before Congress earlier this week.
Now, Harvard’s president, Claudine Gay, has apologized amid calls for her resignation and public criticism over her answer to Rep. Elise Stefanik’s question about calls for Jewish genocide.
Gay, along with MIT president Sally Kornbluth and Penn president Elizabeth Magill, was asked if calling for the “genocide of Jews” violates her school’s code of conduct.
“It can be, depending on the context,” Gay answered.
The three presidents’ answers quickly sent sparked outrage. Within a day, the presidents sent statements clarifying their remarks, but the fallout continued.
On Thursday, Gay apologized during an interview with The Harvard Crimson on Thursday.
“I am sorry,” Gay said to The Crimson. “Words matter.”
“When words amplify distress and pain, I don’t know how you could feel anything but regret,” she added.
“I got caught up in what had become at that point, an extended, combative exchange about policies and procedures,” Gay told The Crimson. “What I should have had the presence of mind to do in that moment was return to my guiding truth, which is that calls for violence against our Jewish community — threats to our Jewish students — have no place at Harvard, and will never go unchallenged.”
Gay has face widespread backlash online, including billionaire hedge fund manager Bill Ackman calling for her and the other two presidents to “resign in disgrace.” More have joined in the calls for resignation, and a Wall Street CEO has threatened to pull his $100 million donation if Magill doesn’t resign from Penn.
The day before her apology, Gay clarified the 90-second clip that triggered an onslaught of criticism.
“There are some who have confused a right to free expression with the idea that Harvard will condone calls for violence against Jewish students. Let me be clear: Calls for violence or genocide against the Jewish community, or any religious or ethnic group are vile, they have no place at Harvard, and those who threaten our Jewish students will be held to account,” Gay said on Wednesday.
In her interview with The Crimson a day later, Gay said that, “Substantively, I failed to convey what is my truth.”