Eleanor Roosevelt High School's Student-Run Newspaper

The Raider Review

Eleanor Roosevelt High School's Student-Run Newspaper

The Raider Review

Eleanor Roosevelt High School's Student-Run Newspaper

The Raider Review

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Harvard President Resigns: What That Means For Black Women in Academia

Harvard+President+Claudine+Gay+speaks+during+a+House+committee+hearing+last+month.+Gay%2C+who+took+office+in+July%2C+announced+her+resignation+Tuesday.+%28Mark+Schiefelbein+%2F+Associated+Press%29
Harvard President Claudine Gay speaks during a House committee hearing last month. Gay, who took office in July, announced her resignation Tuesday. (Mark Schiefelbein / Associated Press)

Former Harvard President, Dr. Claudine Gay, resigned as President of the esteemed institution on January 2nd, 2024. She made history when she was sworn in as Harvard’s first Black president and the second woman to lead the school in its 388-year history. Dr. Gay’s resignation came as she was facing scrutiny following a congressional hearing regarding an increase in reports of antisemitism and Islamophobia on Harvard’s campus due to the ongoing war in Gaza. During the hearing, Dr. Gay appeared reluctant to state that calls for a Jewish genocide would go against Harvard’s code of conduct, which sparked backlash amongst representatives in Congress. The congressional hearing not only questioned her but also the presidents of MIT and the University of Pennsylvania.

After her hearing and the backlash that followed, Dr. Gay was accused of plagiarizing a few pieces of her academic work. The accusations, however, have been proven to be minor. Criticism of Dr. Gay, however, is more than just what’s on the surface and relates to Harvard’s own history.

Of the three presidents who were intimately questioned, only one’s intellectual abilities were targeted — Claudine Gay. Also, of the three presidents questioned, only one received extensive amounts of racially motivated attacks before and following the hearing. Harvard being a predominantly white institution that has unquestionable ties to slavery, the discussions regarding Dr. Gay’s academic ability were more than outrage over what she said at the hearing; it was a discriminatory backlash. In Dr. Gay’s own letter of resignation, she mentioned that she had received “threats fueled by racial animus.” Though Dr. Gay has made several faults throughout her tenure as president, the treatment that she has received from the public shows that the criticisms of her are just a reason for critics to be permissibly racist. Considering the importance of having people of color in high positions of power, hopefully in the future institutions of all kinds can allow their leaders to listen to their students and staff’s concerns and take accountability before being scrutinized beyond what is necessary. Regardless of how the past few months have affected Dr. Gay’s reputation, she has made it a real possibility for Black women to acquire a position of authority, and that is how she should be remembered.

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About the Contributor
Brooke Sharp
Brooke Sharp, Editor-in Chief
As the Editor-in-Chief and a third-year staff writer of the Raider Review and a senior at Eleanor Roosevelt High School, Brooke Sharp wants to continue to improve her writing and communication skills to be better prepared for her future in the journalism field. She returned to the Raider Review to continue to use her passions for writing, reading, drawing, photography, music, and politics to produce thought-provoking articles and multimedia stories that people enjoy reading and viewing.  Brooke’s career goal is to become a journalist. As of now, she wants to study journalism and public relations at Northwestern University. Brooke’s goal is to entertain and inform those on global issues and events that aren't discussed enough in mainstream media.
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