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Harvard President resigns amid scandals with plagiarism, tolerating antisemitism

Harvard President resigns amid scandals with plagiarism, tolerating antisemitism Claudine Gay (Getty Images)

Harvard President Claudine Gay, the first Black president and the second woman holding the position, announced her resignation six months after being into her presidency over controversial scandals involving plagiarism and antisemitism, according to CNN.

“After consultation with members of the Corporation, it has become clear that it is in the best interests of Harvard for me to resign," she wrote in a resignation letter, describing the decision as "difficult beyond words."

Gay plans to return to a faculty position, focusing on scholarship and teaching. Harvard's current provost and chief academic officer Alan M. Garber will act as interim president until the university appoints a new head.

Plagiarism scandal

Gay is accused that her 2001 article, "The Effect of Minority Districts and Minority Representation on Political Participation in California," has elements of plagiarism.

Specifically, several sentences from scholar David T. Canon's 1999 book were incorporated into Gay's article without proper attribution or the use of quotation marks. The resemblance extended to the near-verbatim reproduction of Canon's writing.

Canon himself doesn't consider this as academic plagiarism. “Both Dr. Gay and I are defining basic terms. Good definitions of these terms would have to use similar language or they would not be accurate. This isn’t even close to an example of academic plagiarism,” he told CNN.

Accusations of tolerating antisemitism

Last month's congressional hearing where she and other university presidents faced criticism for not handling calls for genocide against Jewish people has drawn attention from CEOs, billionaires, donors, and congressional leaders.

After the October 7 Hamas attacks on Israel, tensions flared up on several college campuses. There have been many protests and clashes, with some turning violent.

Gay didn't explicitly acknowledge that calls for the genocide of Jewish people contained bullying and harassment on campus. She then apologized. “I am sorry,” she said. “Words matter.”