Last week, Republican members of Congress utilized the serious issue of antisemitism as a tool against higher education on a global scale.
University President Claudine Gay, invited by a House committee, testified about antisemitism on college campuses alongside MIT and the University of Pennsylvania presidents.
If you tuned into the hearing and wondered why the initial focus was on trans athletes, you’re not alone. Despite being labeled as a discussion on student safety, it turned out to be a pretext for opportunistic politicians to launch an all-out assault on higher education.
Now, these bad-faith actors are targeting Gay’s position. Over a decontextualized minute-long clip, they are demanding her resignation.
We firmly reject the calls for Gay to resign and urge you not to let Congress shape the narrative of this campus moment. As Harvard students, this is our campus, and we’ve witnessed firsthand the vitriol of recent months. We aim to set the record straight.
Antisemitism is a significant problem at Harvard and across the United States, evidenced by reprehensible posts on anonymous campus social media and a tripling of hate crimes against Jewish people in New York City from last October to this one. It deserves nuanced and serious discussion.
However, instead of addressing the issue seriously, it has been treated as a prop in political theater. Recent rhetoric wrongly portrays non-Jewish Harvard students and the university as deeply antisemitic.
We reject this careless characterization, as we believe the majority of our peers do not harbor hate toward Jewish people.
This perspective has been obscured as Congress portrays Jewish and pro-Palestinian students as uniform monoliths with fixed beliefs. In reality, our campus houses Jewish students advocating for a free Palestine, Arab students endorsing Jewish self-determination, and others with complex, well-reasoned beliefs.
In their lines of questioning, Republican members of Congress neglected the diversity of our campus, largely overlooking the actual issue at hand. If they genuinely cared about addressing antisemitism, they wouldn’t have diverted their time to unrelated topics such as conservative faculty, diversity initiatives, and unrelated movements.
Nor would they endorse antisemitic conspiracy theories or support candidates who praised Hitler, as a certain Harvard alumna from New York has done.
This alumna, seemingly now concerned about antisemitism, gained attention for questioning Gay about Harvard’s rules on bullying and harassment. While Gay’s response may seem unsatisfying, there is no University policy that unequivocally answers the question. Stefanik’s question was technical, focusing on the application of Harvard’s code of conduct, and Gay provided a technical answer.
Stefanik did not genuinely seek to understand Harvard’s policies; she set a trap for Gay, equating language like “globalize the intifada” with calls for genocide. We condemn calls for genocide, but it’s essential to recognize the complexity of this issue.
While “globalize the intifada” is not straightforwardly a call for genocide, it does hurt and disturb many Jewish students. We urge pro-Palestinian activists still using the phrase to reconsider.
Free speech is our guiding principle, but it requires speaking responsibly. We encourage students to consider multiple perspectives for more productive arguments.
Gay’s initial failure to morally condemn calls for genocide was a leadership lapse, for which she has apologized. However, it should not lead to her resignation. Resigning over this politicized controversy would set a damaging precedent.
For the sake of free speech, free inquiry, and a free democracy, Harvard—and Gay—must not yield. This editorial represents the majority view of The Crimson Editorial Board and does not involve editors who opine on these matters in the reporting of related articles to ensure impartiality.