The award-winning voice of North Cobb High School in Kennesaw, Georgia.

The Chant

The award-winning voice of North Cobb High School in Kennesaw, Georgia.

The Chant

The award-winning voice of North Cobb High School in Kennesaw, Georgia.

The Chant

The resignation of Claudine Gay

Stephanie Mitchell
Harvard stands out due to its status among law schools and expectations like no other. Dr. Claudine Gay entered Harvard’s history as the first Black president, changing the school’s history. After almost six months of holding the presidential position, Gay resigned and sparked conversation around her departure. Leaving her position on January 2, 2024, she returned to her life as a professor at the university.

July 1, 2023, Claudine Gay became the president of Harvard University, making history by becoming the first Black president of Harvard and the second woman to ever lead in the school’s 386-year history. Her election caused controversy but served as a beneficial step for Harvard. 

Gay, known for her admirable leadership skills and passionate teaching career before her presidency, Gay kickstarted numerous successful initiatives during her tenure. She guided efforts to expand student access and opportunity while focusing on increasing excellence and innovation in learning and enhancing aspects of academic culture. Her departure creates a difficult role to fill, replacing someone with such high status normally brings challenges especially filling the role of a president. 

Gay and other university presidents including Liz Magill of the University of Pennsylvania and Sally Kornbluth of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology held a hearing to discuss the recent antisemitism on their campuses due to the events unfolding in Israel with Hamas in Gaza. In response to this and her departure, cases of antisemitism have spiked again on Harvard’s campus. This hearing ultimately brought Gay disapproval from conservative groups due to evidence she used to defend her claims. The evidence enraged conservatives which caused outlets to accuse her of plagiarism. Conservative groups acted against her, and the media flooded her with claims of plagiarism. Along with this controversy, Harvard faced criticism for discrimination under Gay’s watch.

Washington Free Beacon, a conservative political news outlet, initially published accusations that Gay paraphrased nearly 20 authors without proper attribution. Harvard eventually put out a statement in support of Gay which increased the anger of these conservative groups. The Free Beacon, Christopher Rufo and other conservatives continuously pressed the accusations and used their voice to inform the public about the claims against Gay. 

“I have never misrepresented my research findings, nor have I ever claimed credit for the research of others. Despite the obsessive scrutiny of my peer-reviewed writings, few have commented on the substance of my scholarship, which focuses on the significance of minority office holding in American politics. My research marshaled concrete evidence to show that when historically marginalized communities gain a meaningful voice in the halls of power, it signals an open door where before many saw only barriers. And that, in turn, strengthens our democracy,” Gay said.

The reasons behind Gay’s resignation received countless reactions. The former president decided to give up her seat on January 2, 2024, after receiving several waves of criticism since her inauguration. The media’s criticism serves as a contributing factor to why she gave up her role as president. Her resignation makes history, as her five months stand as the shortest time a president spent in the Harvard office. Though her role as president has ended, she will continue teaching at the university and maintain her involvement at the school. Harvard physician and economist Alan Garber will temporarily replace Gay while the school searches for a new leader. 

“Her leaving doesn’t affect me too much because I’m so far from college. It was cool to see a Black person as the head of Harvard though. That school is so difficult to get into and seeing a person of color be in charge of the progress is impressive. Her time was short, but I hope she has some sort of legacy at the school,” freshman Eric Mitchell said. 

The plagiarism claims and Gay’s resignation damaged the school’s image and sparked conversations amongst students and professors about the events involving their former president. With professors defending Gay while students anticipate their new principal, Gay’s resignation indisputably placed a spotlight on the school.

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About the Contributor
Jasmyn Mitchell, Reporter
Jasmyn “ Jazzy” Mitchell is a junior at NC. Mitchell adores expressing herself through photography and writing. She navigates every day through a critical lens and plans to change the world. Journalism gives Mitchell the opportunity to express her feelings, critics and opinions. Writing is something she's always been shy about, but this gives her the privilege to show the world her abilities. 

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