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Harvard President Claudine Gay to Testify Before Congress About Antisemitism on College Campuses

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Updated: November 28, 2023, at 11:48 a.m.

Harvard President Claudine Gay will testify before the House Committee on Education and the Workforce about antisemitism on college and university campuses, the committee announced in a press release Tuesday morning.

Gay will testify during a hearing on Dec. 5 alongside MIT President Sally A. Kornbluth and University of Pennsylvania President Elizabeth Magill. Harvard, MIT, and UPenn have all faced calls to do more to combat antisemitism after Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on Israel revealed bitter tensions on college campuses across the country.

Harvard spokesperson Jason A. Newton confirmed in a statement that Gay accepted the committee’s invitation to testify.

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“President Gay looks forward to sharing updates and information on the university’s work to support the Harvard community and combat antisemitism,” Newton wrote.

Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.), who chairs the Education and Workforce Committee, said in the press release that by holding the hearing, the committee is “shining the spotlight on these campus leaders and demanding they take the appropriate action to stand strong against antisemitism.”

“College and university presidents have a responsibility to foster and uphold a safe learning environment for their students and staff,” Foxx said. “Now is not a time for indecision or milquetoast statements.”

The backlash against Harvard over its initial response to Hamas’ attack has almost entirely consumed Gay’s first semester as president. Harvard Provost Alan M. Garber ’76 previously described the controversy — which erupted as Gay reached the 100th day of her presidency — as the most serious crisis the University has faced over his 12-year tenure.

A wide range of affiliates — including members of Congress and former Harvard President Lawrence H. Summers — criticized the University’s first statement for failing to explicitly condemn Hamas or respond to a controversial statement signed by more than 30 Harvard student groups that held Israel “entirely responsible” for the violence.

Rep. Elise M. Stefanik ’06 (R-N.Y.), the fourth-ranking House Republican and a member of the Education and Workforce Committee, has repeatedly called on Gay to resign over her handling of the situation.

Gay has announced a range of efforts to combat antisemitism at Harvard in the weeks since, a response to growing concerns from affiliates about student safety amid heightened tensions on campus.

In a speech to students and parents gathered at a Harvard Hillel Shabbat dinner, Gay said she formed an advisory group on antisemitism. She later pledged to work with the group to implement antisemitism education and training for affiliates.

Gay has also been condemned on campus for her response to doxxing attacks against students allegedly affiliated with organizations that signed the controversial student statement, with students alleging that she has not sufficiently protected pro-Palestine student activists or Muslim students broadly. While Harvard launched a task force to support doxxed students in October, the University has not created an initiative to counter Islamophobia, despite student calls to do so.

Gay’s appearance at the House hearing next week will mark her first official trip as Harvard’s president to meet with members of Congress in Washington. The full committee hearing will be held Dec. 5 at 10:15 a.m.

​​—Staff writer Miles J. Herszenhorn can be reached at miles.herszenhorn@thecrimson.com. Follow him on X @mherszenhorn or on Threads @mileshersz.

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