Black Harvard Students Express Dismay Nearly 1 Month After Claudine Gay Resignation

by Xara Aziz
YouTube via CNN/Getty Images

It was a month of epic proportions for Harvard University and its then-president, Dr. Claudine Gay when she resigned after just six months at the post after being accused of failing to insert citations and quotation marks that were omitted from original publications she claimed as her own. But across the university, Black students are still reeling and “devastated” that she is gone.

“For her to no longer be there, I’m devastated,” senior RuQuan Brown told BET. “Devastated, because I’ve seen so many Black leaders be publicly humiliated, ostracized and, some would even say, publicly lynched.”

Another senior penned a heartfelt article in the Harvard Crimson explaining the distress many Black women in academia face mainly due to the color of their skin.

“The resignation of Claudine Gay is a heart-wrenching display that at the mountaintop for the Black woman, there is no promised land. No liberation, no forgiveness, no love, no protection,” Golding wrote. At the mountaintop, the world robs the Black woman of her breath such that the only option is to let the suffocation kill her or to let it kill her dreams.”

On January 3, Dr. Gay, the first Black woman to be appointed to the role, announced her resignation in an email sent to the Harvard community

“It is with a heavy heart but a deep love for Harvard that I write to share that I will be stepping down as president,” she wrote. “This is not a decision I came to easily. Indeed, it has been difficult beyond words because I have looked forward to working with so many of you to advance the commitment to academic excellence that has propelled this great university across centuries.”

She continued: “But, after consultation with members of the Corporation, it has become clear that it is in the best interests of Harvard for me to resign so that our community can navigate this moment of extraordinary challenge with a focus on the institution rather than any individual.”

The day before the political scientist announced her resignation, the Washington Free Beacon, a right-wing online publication that spearheaded a campaign against Dr. Gay, submitted a complaint with “nearly 50 allegations, including over half a dozen examples never seen before.” The complaint was filed weeks after initial allegations charged her with plagarizing parts of her 1997 dissertation.

In its initial review of the plagiarism charges against Dr. Gay in December, Harvard said it reviewed the allegations and found that while there was some use of “duplicative language” it was not enough to charge her with research misconduct.

“I stand by the integrity of my scholarship,” Dr. Gay said statement following the initial plagiarism allegations she was charged with. “Throughout my career, I have worked to ensure my scholarship adheres to the highest academic standards.”

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