House GOP continues Harvard antisemitism investigation despite president’s departure

The House education committee, led by Republicans, has intensified its investigation into Harvard for antisemitism following the resignation of the university’s president.

Representative Virginia Foxx, the committee’s chairwoman and a Republican from North Carolina, has sent a new letter demanding that Harvard provide years’ worth of documents and communications related to school policies and incidents of antisemitic harassment and discrimination.

Foxx emphasized that the issue of antisemitism at Harvard goes beyond the resignation of Dr. Gay, stating, “Harvard’s institutional failures regarding antisemitism extend well beyond one leader.”

The committee’s letter was addressed to Penny Pritzker, a senior fellow for the Harvard Corporation, and Alan Garber, the school’s former provost who is currently serving as interim president after Claudine Gay’s resignation on January 2.

Gay, who became the first Black president of Harvard, stepped down after just six months following allegations that she improperly cited other scholarship in her academic research, including her decades-old dissertation.

Gay’s departure came shortly after she testified before the House education committee alongside two other college presidents, one of whom is Jewish. She struggled to answer a question from GOP Rep. Elise Stefanik about whether advocating for the genocide of Jews would violate university policies. Liz Magill, the president of the University of Pennsylvania, also resigned as a result of the controversy.

US college presidents face consequences: A chilling impact

In an opinion piece published on January 3 in The New York Times, Claudine Gay described her decision to step down as Harvard’s president as “wrenching but necessary.” She acknowledged and promptly corrected the citation errors in her research and defended her work in the face of intense scrutiny. Gay also argued that the criticism she faced, some of which she believed was racially motivated, was part of a larger attack on academic freedom and higher education institutions driven by the right-wing.

“Those who relentlessly campaigned to remove me often resorted to lies and personal insults rather than reasoned arguments,” Gay wrote. “They perpetuated racial stereotypes about Black talent and character. They promoted a false narrative of indifference and incompetence.”

The GOP intensifies its scrutiny: Plagiarism claims fuel the fire against higher education

Harvard is among the many universities currently being investigated by the Education Department for civil rights violations related to discrimination based on shared ancestry, which includes antisemitic and anti-Muslim harassment. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona has reported a significant increase in complaints of this nature in recent months, particularly due to the tensions stemming from the Israel-Hamas conflict.

In a statement to USA TODAY, Harvard spokesperson Nicole Rura mentioned that the university is reviewing Foxx’s letter and plans to communicate with the committee regarding their request.

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