Washington, D.C. - Today during the Committee on Education & the Workforce hearing on “Holding Campus Leaders Accountable and Confronting Antisemitism,” Congresswoman Elise Stefanik, a Harvard University alumni, questioned Harvard President Claudine Gay about Harvard’s failure to condemn antisemitic and anti-Israel bigotry on their campuses following the terrorist attacks on Israel committed by Hamas terrorists on October 7th.
Read a full transcript of her line of questioning below:
Congresswoman Stefanik: Dr. Gay, a Harvard student calling for the mass murder of African Americans is not protected free speech at Harvard, correct?
President Gay: Our commitment to free speech -
Congresswoman Stefanik: It’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 the protected free speech?
President Gay: Our commitment to free speech -
Congresswoman Stefanik: It’s a yes or no question. Let me ask you this: you are president of Harvard so I assume you are familiar with the term “Intifada,” correct?
President Gay: I have heard that term, yes.
Congresswoman 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?
President Gay: That type of hateful speech is personally abhorrent to me.
Congresswoman Stefanik: And there have been multiple marches at Harvard with student chanting “There is only one solution. Intifada revolution” and “Globalize the Intifada,” is that correct?
President Gay: I’ve heard that thoughtless, reckless, and hateful language on our campus, yes.
Congresswoman 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?
President Gay: I will say again, that type of hateful speech is personally abhorrent to me.
Congresswoman Stefanik: Do you believe that type of hateful speech is contrary to Harvard’s Code of Conduct or is it allowed at Harvard?
President Gay: It is at odds with the values of Harvard.
Congresswoman Stefanik: Can you not say here that it is against the Code of Conduct at Harvard?
President 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, intimidation…
Congresswoman Stefanik: Does that speech not cross that barrier? Does that speech not call for the genocide of Jews and the elimination of Israel? You testified that you understand that that is the definition of “intifada.” Is that speech according to the Code of Conduct or not?
President Gay: We embrace a commitment to free expression and give a wide berth to free expression even of views that are objectionable, outrageous and offensive.
Congresswoman Stefanik: You and I both know that that is not the case. You are aware that Harvard ranked dead last when it came to free speech, are you not aware of that report?
President Gay: As I’ve observed earlier, I reject that characterization of our campus.
Congresswoman Stefanik: The data show’s it’s true and isn’t it true that Harvard previously rescinded multiple offers of admissions for applicants and accepted freshman for sharing offensive memes, racist statements, sometimes as young as 16-years-old. Did Harvard not rescind those offers of admission?
President Gay: That long predates my time as president so I can’t speak -
Congresswoman Stefanik: But you understand that Harvard made that decision to rescind those offers of admission.
President Gay: I have no reason to contradict the facts as you present them to me.
Congresswoman Stefanik: Correct, because it’s a fact. You’re also aware that a Winthrop House faculty dean was let go over who he chose to legally represent. Correct? That was while you were dean.
President Gay: That is an incorrect characterization of what transpired.
Congresswoman Stefanik: What’s the characterization?
President Gay: I’m not going to get into details about a personnel matter.
Congresswoman Stefanik: Well let me ask you this: will admission 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.
President Gay: As I’ve said, that type of hateful, reckless, offensive speech is personally abhorrent to me.
Congresswoman Stefanik: No action will be taken? What action will be taken?
President Gay: When speech crosses into conduct that violates our policies, including policies against bullying, harassment and intimidation, we take action. We have robust disciplinary processes that allow us to hold individuals accountable.
Congresswoman Stefanik: What action has been taken against students who are harassing and calling for the genocide of jews on Harvards campus?
President Gay: I can assure you, we have robust disciplinary actions.
Congresswoman Stefanik: What actions have been taken? I’m not asking, I’m asking what actions have been taken against those students.
President 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.
Congresswoman Stefanik: Do you know what the number one hate crime in America is?
President 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.
Congresswoman 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 have called for your resignation and your testimony today and not being able to answer with moral clarity speaks volumes.