The Washington Post on Thursday called on universities and colleges to learn from Harvard’s mistakes following the resignation of Claudine Gay. The former university president faced backlash over accusations of plagiarism and her handling of anti-Semitism on campus.
“Harvard and other leading institutions of higher education would do well to reflect on how they themselves contributed to this debacle and how they can do better in the future,” the Washington Post editorial board wrote.
The Post highlighted the backlash over Gay and former UPenn President Liz Magill’s responses to questions at a Congressional hearing, saying they used “bloodless, legal language” to respond to questions about calls for genocide against Jews on campus.
The editorial board argued that the deeper cause of Gay’s resignation had to do with “the clash between elite universities, whose students and faculty lean sharply left, and a broader society in which populist conservatism is making his presence felt more and more”.
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“The lesson for Harvard and for all universities is that it was a mistake to create the expectation that university presidents should weigh in on the big issues of the day. If administrators, as a matter of principle, avoided pandering to left-wing activists in “On campus, they would be on firmer ground resisting activist voices, right-wing or not, outside of it. And their claims to respect all speech (within uniformly applied limitations of time, manner, and place) would have more credibility,” the editorial board continued.
The board added that Harvard and Gay were inconsistent in policing free speech on campus, arguing that they often do so when speech “offends prevailing progressive sentiment.”
Gay claimed to be a victim of racially motivated attacks in his resignation letter. She did not address the plagiarism accusations.
“It has been distressing to have my commitments to confront hate and uphold academic rigor, two core values that are fundamental to who I am, called into question, and terrifying to be subjected to personal attacks and threats fueled by racial animus,” she wrote. .
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“The task of a great university is not to take sides in America’s culture wars,” the board wrote. “When universities appear to take a ‘collective position,’ they undermine this purpose, signaling to students and faculty that there is only one correct way to think.”
The board added that Harvard and universities in general were not “blameless” and said they should take advantage of the opportunity to learn.
Liberal professors came to Gay’s defense on Wednesday, accusing his critics of being “racist mobs” and “mouth-breathing fascists.”
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“Racist mobs will not stop until they remove all black people from positions of power and influence who are not reinforcing the structure of racism,” Boston University professor Ibram X. Kendi posted on X. “What these racist mobs are doing should be obvious to any reporter who cares about truth or justice rather than conflicts and clicks.”
“He definitely didn’t deserve this,” Georgetown assistant professor Amanda Sahar d’Urso wrote on social media. “I hope he can live his life in peace, for the sake of his mental and emotional well-being.”
“For the rest of us, this is a load of rubbish and we should be really worried,” he continued.
Fox News’ Andrew Mark Miller contributed to this report.