Claudine Gay Ousted as Harvard’s First Black President – But WHY?

'You know she was an affirmative action hire...'

Ken Lamb
Claudine Gay (Brian Snyder-Reuters)
Claudine Gay (Brian Snyder-Reuters)

*Dr. Claudine Gay’s tenure as President of Harvard lasted only six months. Why was she forced to resign? The top-reported line is her plagiarism (which has been conceded) and her not-so-robust statements to a Republican-led U. S. House of Representatives committee against antisemitism on Harvard’s campus. But are there more sinister and diabolical reasons lurking beneath the surface?

Dr. Gay’s appointment was historic. She was the first Black person (of Dominican descent) and only the second female of the 27 presidents. She represented only 3.7% of the members of that prestigious office of the elite Ivy League institution founded in the 1600’s.

Was she qualified? Some of her critics claim she was an “affirmative action” hire. This comes as no surprise from a country steeped in a history of racial bias and hung up on white supremacy. It is a well-worn cry whenever a white male is not chosen over an even more qualified person of color, especially a woman.

Her supporters (family, friends, colleagues, former students, and supervisors) paint a completely different picture. They characterize her as smart, prepared, knowledgeable, probing, succinct, and very helpful to fellow academics and students.

While her ascension to the highest level of academia was meteoric, it followed a pattern throughout her career. She received her undergraduate degree in 1992 (Stanford), Ph.D. in 1998 (Harvard), tenured in 2000 (Stanford), fellowship in 2003-4, professor of government in 2006 (Harvard), and Dean of Social Sciences in 2015 (Harvard). Imagine a white male with these credentials. Yet her critics claim she rose due to affirmative action. It is no wonder they fear Critical Race Theory (CRT) education even when they don’t know what it entails.

Claudine Gay, Liz Magill and Pamela Nadell (Kevin Dietsch-Getty Images)
Claudine Gay, Liz Magill and Pamela Nadell (Kevin Dietsch-Getty Images)

So, what was it that took her down? At least five layers contribute to her parabolic-shaped ascension and downfall. In the order of “what can we say that doesn’t appear racist” to “we can’t let her kind and their ideology be in leadership,” I offer: weak antisemitism position, plagiarism, being a woman, being Black, and her commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion (DEI) and anti-racism. I weigh more towards the latter for what was really behind the efforts to oust her.

I was inspired to write down these thoughts when in a conversation about Dr. Gay’s resignation an elderly white male casually mentioned: “You know she was an affirmative action hire.” In my research, I learned that at least one of the sources of this accusation was William Ackman, a billionaire hedge fund manager, known for his anti-LGBTQ+ position. Ironically his wife has been also accused of plagiarism similar to Dr. Gay while at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T.). She has apologized so it seems as an admission to the accusation. His response is to investigate every paper written by M.I.T. graduate students.

The learning opportunities of this unfortunate event and others like it are far-reaching. What is plagiarism? Are all levels of plagiarism equal? How widespread is it? What famous people have been accused? These are but a few of the avenues of inquiry to learn more about a subject rarely discussed outside of academia. Then there are lessons on how powerful people are brought down and what really was going on behind the scenes. Any single publication will often not provide sufficient details, facts, or content to draw an adequate conclusion. Some can be misleading or conflated to push an ideological agenda. And finally, it takes critical thinking skills to sort through and ferret out the “pepper from the fly sh*t.”

Ken Lamb
Ken Lamb

Ken Lamb is a contributing writer residing in California. His opinions are based on articles published by sources that include (at the least) The Harvard Crimson, Aljazeera, New York Times, and The Guardian. Added to these are real-life experiences.

MORE NEWS ON EURWEB: Former Harvard President Claudine Gay Will Continue to Earn Six-Figure Salary at University

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