More than 500 Harvard faculty members are calling for Harvard to keep Claudine Gay as university president.
Gay has apologized for her remarks during a congressional hearing on antisemitism.
Penn’s president has already resigned. MIT’s board has issued a statement backing its president.
In the wake of Tuesday’s widely panned congressional hearing on antisemitism, Harvard, MIT, and the University of Pennsylvania have been facing growing calls from donors and business leaders to remove their presidents.
Liz Magill, the president of UPenn, resigned over the weekend.
However, some Harvard faculty members are calling for Harvard to resist calls to remove university president Claudine Gay. More than 500 faculty members signed a letter to the Harvard Corporation, urging the university’s governing body not to remove Gay, the Harvard Crimson reported on Sunday.
In the letter, the faculty members urged the university “to defend the independence of the university and to resist political pressures that are at odds with Harvard’s commitment to academic freedom, including calls for the removal of President Claudine Gay.”
“The critical work of defending a culture of free inquiry in our diverse community cannot proceed if we let its shape be dictated by outside forces,” they continued.
Per the Crimson, the signatories include law professor Laurence Tribe; history professor and Pulitzer prize winner Annette Gordon-Reed; and Derek Penslar, a history professor and the head of the university’s Center for Jewish Studies.
The university’s governing body was set to hold a regularly scheduled meeting on Sunday. Harvard did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment sent outside regular business hours.
Some Harvard faculty members have also taken to social media to defend Gay.
“I fear too few of us have said what many of us think: She did nothing wrong, & the real failure of leadership would be surrendering to a campaign so hostile to our values,” Harvard law professor Ben Eidelson, who has been teaching at Harvard since 2019, wrote on X.
Harvard economics professor Jason Furman, who has been at Harvard for six years, wrote on X, “Claudine Gay denounced calling for genocide before the hearing. She denounced it in the hearing. And she denounced it after the hearing.” Furman added that the university still had work to do regarding anti-semitism and islamophobia.
The presidents of Harvard, MIT, and UPenn faced calls to resign for their soft responses to a question posed by congresswoman Elise Stefanik on whether calling for the “genocide of Jews” was against their universities’ codes of conduct.
Gay responded, “It can be, depending on the context.” She has since apologized for her comments in an interview with the Harvard Crimson.
While Harvard’s governing bodies have kept silent about Gay’s future with the university, the MIT governing board has released a statement supporting its president, Sally Kornbluth, the Hill reported on Friday.
The board wrote that Kornbluth “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.”
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