December 5th, 2023

By Tim Hains


Rep. Elise Stefanik grilled Harvard University’s president during an Education Committee hearing on antisemitism on college campuses featuring the presidents of MIT, Harvard, and the University of Pennsylvania.

You can watch the full hearing below this segment of transcript:

ELISE STEFANIK: A Harvard student calling for the mass murder of African-Americans is not protected free speech at Harvard, correct?

CLAUDINE GAY: Our commitment to free speech —

ELISE STEFANIK: That’s a yes or no question. Is that correct? Is that okay for students to call for the mass murder of African-Americans at Harvard? Is that protected free speech?

CLAUDINE GAY: Our commitment to free speech extends —

ELISE STEFANIK: It’s a yes or no question. Let me ask you this. You are the president of Harvard, so I assume you’re familiar with the term “intifada,” correct?

CLAUDINE GAY: I’ve heard that term, yes.

ELISE STEFANIK: And you understand that the use of the term intifada in the context of the Israeli-Arab conflict is indeed a call for violent armed resistance against the state of Israel, including violence against civilians and the genocide of Jews. Are you aware of that?

CLAUDINE GAY: That type of hateful speech is personally abhorrent to me.

ELISE STEFANIK: And there have been multiple marches at Harvard with students chanting quote, “there is only one solution, intifada revolution.” And quote, “globalize the intifada.” Is that correct?

CLAUDINE GAY: I’ve heard that thoughtless, reckless, and hateful language on our campus, yes.

ELISE STEFANIK: So, based upon your testimony, you understand that this call for intifada is to commit genocide against the Jewish people in Israel and globally, correct?

CLAUDINE GAY: I will say again that type of hateful speech is personally abhorrent to me.

ELISE STEFANIK: Do you believe that type of hateful speech is contrary to Harvard’s code of conduct or is it allowed at Harvard?

CLAUDINE GAY: It is at odds with the values of Harvard. But our values also —

ELISE STEFANIK: Can you not say here that it is against the code of conduct at Harvard?

CLAUDINE GAY: We embrace a commitment to free expression, even of views that are objectionable, offensive, hateful. It’s when that speech crosses into conduct that violates our policies against bullying, harassment —

ELISE STEFANIK: Does that speech not cross that barrier? Does that speech not call for the genocide of Jews and the elimination of Israel?


ELISE STEFANIK: You testify that you understand that it’s the definition of intifada. Is that speech according to the code of conduct or not?

CLAUDINE GAY: We embrace a commitment to free expression and give a wide berth to free expression even of views that are objectionable —

ELISE STEFANIK: You and I both know that’s not the case. You were aware that Harvard ranked dead last when it came to free speech. Are you not aware of that report?

CLAUDINE GAY: As I observed earlier, I reject that characterization.

ELISE STEFANIK: It’s — the data shows it’s true. And isn’t it true that Harvard previously rescinded multiple offers of admissions for applicants and accepted freshmen for sharing offensive memes, racist statements, sometimes as young as 16 years old? Did Harvard not rescind those offers of admission?

CLAUDINE GAY: That long predates my time as president, so I can’t —

ELISE STEFANIK: But you understand that Harvard made that decision to rescind those offers of admission.

CLAUDINE GAY: I have no reason to contradict the facts as you present them.

ELISE STEFANIK: Correct, because it’s a fact. You’re also aware that a Winthrop House faculty dean was let go over he — over who he chose to legally represent, correct? That was while you were dean.

CLAUDINE GAY: That is an incorrect characterization of what transpired.

ELISE STEFANIK: What’s the characterization?

CLAUDINE GAY: I’m not going to get into details about a personnel matter.

ELISE STEFANIK: Well, let me ask you this, will admissions offers be rescinded or any disciplinary action be taken against students or applicants who say, “from the river to the sea” or “intifada,” advocating for the murder of Jews?

CLAUDINE GAY: As I’ve said that type of hateful, reckless, offensive speech is personally abhorrent to me.

ELISE STEFANIK: You’re saying today that no action will be taken — what action will be taken?

CLAUDINE GAY: When speech crosses into conduct that violates our policies, including policies against bullying, harassment, or intimidation, we take action. And we have robust disciplinary processes that allow us to hold individuals accountable.

ELISE STEFANIK: What action has been taken against students who are harassing and calling for the genocide of Jews on Harvard’s campus?

CLAUDINE GAY: I can assure you we have robust —

ELISE STEFANIK: What actions have been taken? I’m not asking —

CLAUDINE GAY: What actions underway?

ELISE STEFANIK: I’m asking what actions have been taken against those students.

CLAUDINE GAY: Given students’ rights to privacy and our obligations under FERPA, I will not say more about any specific cases other than to reiterate that processes are ongoing.

ELISE STEFANIK: Do you know what the number one hate crime in America is?

CLAUDINE GAY: I know that over the last couple of months, there has been an alarming rise of antisemitism, which I understand is the critical topic that we are here to discuss.

ELISE STEFANIK: That’s correct. It is anti-Jewish hate crimes.

And Harvard ranks the lowest when it comes to protecting Jewish students. This is why I’ve called for your resignation. And your testimony today, not being able to answer with moral clarity, speaks volumes. I yield back.

Watch the full hearing, still ongoing as of Tuesday afternoon, below: