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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - LONDON: The Harvard Corp., the highest governing body at the world-renowned American university, has thrown its support behind the institution’s president, Claudine Gay, amid pressure to sack her over her recent testimony before Congress about on-campus antisemitism.
Gay and other university presidents have faced a backlash for failing to give a definitive yes or no answer on whether student calls for the genocide of Jewish people violated university policy.
More than 700 Harvard faculty members have signed a petition endorsing Gay’s presidency, warning that bowing to political pressure for her dismissal would be “at odds with Harvard’s commitment to academic freedom.”
And the petition appealed for administrators to “defend the independence of the university.”
The Harvard Alumni Association’s executive committee has also given its backing to Gay.
In a statement on Tuesday, the Harvard Corp. said: “Our extensive deliberations affirm our confidence that President Gay is the right leader to help our community heal and to address the very serious societal issues we are facing.
“In this tumultuous and difficult time, we unanimously stand in support of President Gay. At Harvard, we champion open discourse and academic freedom, and we are united in our strong belief that calls for violence against our students and disruptions of the classroom experience will not be tolerated.
“Harvard’s mission is advancing knowledge, research, and discovery that will help address deep societal issues and promote constructive discourse, and we are confident that President Gay will lead Harvard forward toward accomplishing this vital work.”
In an interview with the university’s newspaper, the Harvard Crimson, Gay apologized for her responses during the congressional session.
Following the hearing, more than 70 lawmakers demanded the removal of the three presidents who had appeared before Congress, with Harvard donors and some faculties joining the calls for Gay’s removal.
The House Education and Workforce Committee was launching an official congressional investigation into antisemitism at Harvard.
Liz Magill, the president of the University of Pennsylvania, said she would resign after facing a similar backlash to Gay.
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