‘Racial Bias’ Played A Role In Harvard President Claudine Gay’s Downfall, Boston Mayor Michelle Wu Says

Printed from: https://newbostonpost.com/2024/01/04/racial-bias-played-a-role-in-harvard-president-claudine-gays-downfall-boston-mayor-michelle-wu-says/

Race-based opposition was a factor in the forced resignation of Harvard president Claudine Gay earlier this week, Boston Mayor Michelle Wu said Wednesday.

Wu seemed to acknowledge that Gay made mistakes in the way she handled the university’s response to Hamas’s invasion of Israel in October 2023, during her testimony before a U.S. House of Representatives committee December 5, and in the way she used uncited material in her academic work.

“But it’s hard not to put the whole picture together and to look at the dynamics of what happened and how personally this was based, how much sort of racial bias was definitely connected to this,” Wu said during an appearance on Java With Jimmy, a Boston-based podcast, on Wednesday, January 3.

James Hills, the host, asked Wu (at 11:14 of the video) about the “interesting dynamics that played into this,” while acknowledging of Gay’s critics:  “They found a hook around this plagiarism thing.”

Wu responded:


Yeah, I mean, I’m just really saddened by how the whole thing played out. And I mean, I, and I know whatever I say here is going to get taken and tried to be twisted out of context by certain people, too, because that is the world that we live in right now. But I simply don’t believe that three minutes of a video clip, especially in a certain setting, where again you’re in a place where people are putting you in a gotcha moment, that that should define everything.

And now, as you said, I think there are other pieces that because of the spotlight, because of the script, because of the constant media machine that has been attached to this –

You know, of course, we all want our universities to reflect the best practices of scholarship and of academia and no one here is defending plagiarism or anti-Semitism or whatever it is that some folks are trying to say this is about, right? But when you look at who’s been doing the pushing, and when you look at who has been generating the constant, constant media noise about it, it is the very same folks who are celebrating now that they’ve been trying to get rid of DEI in universities for a while now. It happened with the Supreme Court case, and the drive behind that — at Harvard also. And it continues, with the kind of type of victory that certain people are trying to declare in this moment.


Hills said criticism of Gay stemmed from what he called “this calculated strategy, anti-DEI.”

Wu, a graduate of Harvard College, said she doesn’t know Gay well, but said she “was so excited by her commitment and vision for the campus to really reflect a sort of spirit that everyone could see themselves reflected in,” and by Gay’s plans for the university’s relationship with the city of Boston.

Wu also acknowledged (at 14:59 of the video) that Gay made rhetorical mistakes, saying:


I agree — she’s even personally said that the words that were used in different settings were not the best ones that could have been used. And I think anyone who’s in a position of leadership has a growth curve and a learning curve, and just a few months in to be in a role like that takes a lot. And I don’t think anyone, again, is trying to defend certain aspects of what happened.

But it’s hard not to put the whole picture together and to look at the dynamics of what happened and how personally this was based, how much sort of racial bias was definitely connected to this. And how much this – You know, people are saying, people are now questioning the entire hiring process and this and that. Well, you know, there are many, many times before when questions haven’t been asked about a lot of different situations. And that’s, you know – my team and I, I think we are well aware of an environment right now, you know, and for some time, that there are certain leaders and certain people in our community who have more questions asked, anything that they do. And those of us who have come up have always had to know how to work twice as hard, 10 times as hard, just to make it through. But this start to 2024 really is a big reminder that these dynamics are entrenched and we still have a lot in front of us.


Gay resigned as president of Harvard on Tuesday, January 2, 2024, after a little more than six months in the job.

NewBostonPost has published a timeline of Gay’s rise and fall.


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