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New York Times, Washington Post editorials call for Claudine Gay's resignation

A New York Times opinion writer wrote that Gay needs to resign or else it shows the world that the school is fine with a university president committing plagiarism so long as they are black.

Published: December 24, 2023 12:08pm

The New York Times and The Washington Post have published editorials calling for Harvard President Claudine Gay to resign amid antisemitism and plagiarism allegations. 

"She plagiarized her acknowledgments. I take no joy in saying this, but Harvard President Claudine Gay ought to resign. Her track record is unbefitting the president of the country’s premier university," Washington Post associate editor Ruth Marcus wrote in an editorial Saturday titled, "Harvard’s Claudine Gay should resign."

Marcus was referring to how Gay is accused of using two sentences from Harvard Professor Jennifer Hochschild's 1996 book acknowledgments in her own doctoral dissertation acknowledgments.

Marcus, who is Jewish, focused on plagiarism allegations against Gay and did not mention how the Harvard president came under fire for her answers about antisemitism before Congress earlier this month.

New York Times opinion writer John McWhorter, who is black, wrote an editorial late last week titled, "Why Claudine Gay Should Go," where he said how having Gay, a black woman, remain in a leadership position conveys an "especially bad look."

McWhorter said he did not call for Gay to be fired or for her to resign after she testified about antisemitism on campus in D.C., and when plagiarism allegations first were brought against Gay, he first said the public should "ease up our judgment" against her. 

"But in the wake of reports of additional acts of plagiarism and Harvard’s saying that she will make further corrections to past writing, the weight of the charges has taken me from 'wait and see' to 'that’s it,'" McWhorter wrote. 

He argued that if Gay remains in place, it shows "that a middling publication record and chronically lackadaisical attention to crediting sources is somehow OK for a university president if she is Black," and that it would be difficult to find a white university president with a similar history.

McWhorter said he is "unclear where the Black pride (or antiracism) is in" allowing Gay to remain president. If Harvard does not dismiss Gay out of concerns of being called racist, McWhorter said Gay needs to step down. 

The Harvard board defended Gay earlier this month and said she would remain president.

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