A newly formed group of Black Harvard alumnae has demanded that the prestigious university redouble its efforts on diversity, equity and inclusion following the resignation of Claudine Gay.
Black Alumnae of Harvard Equity Initiative (BAHEI) drafted a petition to the board calling for DEI to be enshrined in nearly every aspect of the university, including faculty hiring and student admissions.
The group’s letter, first published by Againstsaid the organization “was formed in the wake of attacks on Dr. Claudine Gay and diversity and equity in general.”
The demands include ensuring that “the narrative surrounding Dr. Gay’s resignation from the presidency is based on truth” and the creation of a “DEI task force” on campus.
The Black Alumnae of Harvard Equity Initiative, formed after the resignation of Claudine Gay (pictured), called on Harvard to enshrine DEI practices in nearly every aspect of the university.
The letter gave Harvard’s interim president, Dr. Alan Garber (pictured), until March 15 to respond to the demands, including ensuring that the narrative about his predecessor’s resignation is “based on the truth” and the creation of a DEI working group.
BAHEI reportedly gave Harvard’s board until March 15 to respond to its petition, which did not indicate the number of signatories but noted that its members include “lawyers, DEI experts, social scientists, entrepreneurs , entrepreneurs, scientists, educators, journalists and media experts.’
The group centered its petition around Gay’s dramatic resignation from the Harvard presidency in January, which came just six months into his tenure.
Gay’s resignation sparked “serious concern” among BAHEI members, who began the letter by calling his dismissal “unfortunate,” despite significant allegations of plagiarism in his academic work that led to his downfall.
Harvard’s first black president also faced harsh backlash for her disastrous congressional hearing on anti-Semitism on college campuses, where she failed to declare that calling for genocide of Jews violated Harvard’s code of conduct.
The hearing scrutiny came as several college campuses, including Harvard, were rocked by clashes between pro-Palestinian and pro-Israeli students in the wake of the Oct. 7 Hamas terrorist attacks.
BAHEI viewed his resignation as a result of Harvard’s failure to support the president, writing, “Dr. Gay (endured) vitriol without a well-coordinated defense to counter the well-coordinated attacks.”
“We want to know how Harvard will handle the selection of the next president and how the University plans to address the current attack on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) at Harvard, in academia, and in society at large.”
Gay’s alleged plagiarism was dismissed in the letter as being “designed to undermine confidence in Dr. Gay’s academic qualifications, given that she is a black woman,” calling the allegations “the first salvo” in an “all-out war.” against DEI”.
Harvard did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the letter when contacted by DailyMail.com.
The letter argued that the Gay scandal was “designed to promote a false narrative and dismantle diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives at Harvard and beyond.”
“In our view, they were racist and misogynistic, and Harvard’s silence or misinterpretation of these attacks suggests a profound misunderstanding of the crisis facing that institution and all institutions.”
To combat the backlash against DEI, the group laid out five demands for the board to act in response.
First, the BAHEI requested that “the narrative surrounding Dr. Gay’s resignation from the presidency be based on truth and that Harvard leadership strongly support Dr. Gay going forward, defending her from any attacks.” future to your character, your home or your person.
The second demand was to “engage in a transparent selection process for the next president of Harvard University that addresses diversity, equity, and inclusion as core values.”
BAHEI also called for DEI to be enshrined in “all facets of college hiring and admissions,” which would follow the Supreme Court’s tapering of Affirmative Action mandates.
The fourth demand was to “refine” Harvard’s DEI strategy, including using DEI experts, creating a DEI working group “to openly address the needs of students, staff, and faculty,” and refining Harvard’s role in society.
Lastly, the group asked Harvard to provide “historical and trend data on enrollment by race, ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic status, and legacy status” to keep up with DEI progress.
Gay’s resignation came after strong backlash over his disastrous congressional hearing on anti-Semitism on college campuses in December 2023, where he failed to declare that calling for the genocide of Jews violated Harvard’s code of conduct.
The group justified its demands by saying that after Gay’s congressional hearing, “cynical forces” have sought to attack free speech at universities across the United States and “portray DEI as anti-Semitic or racist.”
They also felt that following the letter would support interim president Dr. Alan Garber’s call to “close the fissures that have weakened our sense of community.”
“Many of the undersigned are a testament to the success of Harvard’s DEI policies and practices,” the group concluded.
“As a global academic leader, Harvard is uniquely positioned to lead and exemplify the urgent need to protect and mobilize for diversity, inclusion, and equity for all.”
Contra, who first reported on the letter, said BAHEI emphasized that its group was separate from the Harvard Black Alumni Society, which was not involved in drafting the new DEI letter.