December 5th, 2023
By Eva Surovell
Harvard President Claudine Gay on Tuesday was questioned by several Republican lawmakers about the state of free speech on campus in the aftermath of Hamas’ surprise attack on Israel in October.
Gay appeared alongside other university presidents before the House Education and the Workforce Committee for a hearing titled “Holding Campus Leader Accountable and Confronting Antisemitism.”
Throughout the hearing, the Harvard President maintained that students are educated on the importance of free expression from the moment they arrive on campus and said those values are “reinforced” throughout their university careers.
“We don’t always get it right — and our students don’t always get it right — but when they transgress, they are held accountable,” Gay said.
Republican lawmakers’ concerns, however, were not dispelled.
Both Rep. Tim Walberg, R-Mich., and Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., cited Harvard’s last place status in the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression’s college free speech rankings. Gay maintained that she disagrees with the foundation’s perspective as reflected in the university’s ranking, adding that Harvard is committed to ensuring free expression and for making space for a wide range of view on campus.
Stefanik, who has called on Gay to resign, repeatedly questioned the president on whether recent pro-Palestinian protests on the university’s campus were contrary to Harvard’s code of conduct.
“This is why I call for your resignation, and your testimony today — not being able to get more clarity — speaks volumes,” Stefanik said.