Scandal in Harvard University: president caught with plagiarism

The allegations of plagiarism against Harvard Universpity's resident, Claudine Gay, have escalated with the addition of six more accusations, bringing the total number to nearly 50. Gay has been under scrutiny for the past six weeks since her response to the Hamas terror attack drew attention to her. It has now been revealed that multiple instances of alleged plagiarism can be found in her academic writings.
Harvard conducted an investigation into the matter and announced on December 12 that Gay had been cleared, although two of her papers required clarification and additional citations. However, critics are now questioning the credibility of the investigation, referring to it as a "sham" and claiming that it was rushed and not sufficiently thorough.
In response to the allegations, Congress has opened an inquiry, and some students at Harvard are expressing concerns that they would face consequences for similar academic misconduct.
Out of the 17 academic works published by Gay, seven were previously found to contain alleged instances of plagiarism. Now, with the discovery of another piece, the total count rises to eight. One example of plagiarism involves a passage from Gay's work in 2001, titled "The Effect of Minority Districts and Minority Representation on Political Participation in California. Public Policy Institute of California," where she wrote about Section 2 and Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA). These passages closely resemble the writings of David Canon in his work "Race, Redistricting, and Representation: The Unintended Consequence."
Another accusation of plagiarism is in relation to text allegedly lifted from an academic named Gary King. Gay's writing from 2001 closely resembles King's writing regarding precinct parameters and their posterior distribution.
The allegations have cast doubt on Gay's academic integrity and have raised concerns about the credibility of the investigation that cleared her. The situation continues to unfold as the inquiry progresses and more evidence is brought forward.

What others think

In an op-ed Fire President Gay' Swain argued that Harvard's failure to condemn Gay was a result of her being a product of an elite system that holds minorities to a lower standard. She urged the university to take decisive action and remove Gay from her position.
The allegations of plagiarism against Gay surfaced after Harvard initiated an investigation in October, well before they became public. This raised concerns about the thoroughness and legitimacy of the university's internal process. It was suggested that the investigation was rushed and lacked sufficient scrutiny.
Billionaire financier Bill Ackman, a prominent critic of Gay, echoed these concerns and called for a probe into the Harvard Corporation board. Ackman, who is also a Harvard graduate and donor, expressed doubt about the integrity of the board's investigation. He questioned whether proper procedures were followed and asserted that the board's attempt to identify and seek damages from the whistleblower violated Harvard's own policies.
In light of these allegations and the potential violations of whistleblower protections and governance protocols, Ackman demanded an immediate investigation of the Harvard Corporation board. He proposed that this inquiry be conducted by credible members of the Harvard Board of Overseers, with the assistance of independent counsel who have no affiliation with the university or the Corporation board. The purpose of this investigation would be to ascertain whether Harvard's whistleblower protection policies were breached and to examine other alleged failures in governance and investigative procedures.
The controversy surrounding Gay's alleged plagiarism also involved other individuals, such as Dr. Carol Swain, who claimed that Gay is unfit for her position. Swain firmly advocated for Gay's dismissal, asserting that Harvard's reluctance to condemn her was indicative of a biased system that holds certain minority individuals to a lower standard than others. In her written piece, Swain offered unsolicited advice to Harvard, emphasized the need to terminate Gay's presidency, and urged the university to uphold consistent standards for all its faculty members.
Harvard professor Lawrence Lobo, who was allegedly plagiarized by Gay, expressed his lack of concern regarding the claims, stating that their work had been explicitly acknowledged. He said to the Boston Globe, "I find myself unconcerned about these claims as our work was explicitly acknowledged."

Gay's responses and further drama

In response to the allegations, Gay submitted two corrections to articles where she had been accused of plagiarism. According to a university spokesman, these corrections included the addition of "quotation marks and citations." Additionally, it was revealed that two more instances of inadequate citation were discovered in her 1997 PhD dissertation. The university stated that they had found "examples of duplicative language without appropriate attribution" and announced that President Gay would update her dissertation to correct these instances of inadequate citation.
The saga began on December 10 when investigative journalist Christopher Rufo reported on Substack that Gay had plagiarized portions of four works over a span of 24 years, including her 1997 PhD dissertation and a series of articles. Following the report, the university conducted an investigation into the allegations and announced on December 12 that corrections had been made.
Specifically, the corrections were applied to a 2017 article titled "A Room for One's Own? The Partisan Allocation of Affordable Housing" published in the Urban Affairs Review. It was discovered that Gay had copied two paragraphs from the work of Harvard scholars D. Stephen Voss and Bradley Palmquist, with one paragraph being nearly identical except for a few words. Notably, in her dissertation, Gay did not use any quotation marks or in-text citations, and Voss and Palmquist were not cited anywhere.
D. Stephen Voss, who currently teaches at the University of Kentucky, acknowledged that Gay had technically plagiarized their work but considered it to be minor and inconsequential. Voss commented to The Crimson, "This doesn't at all look sneaky... It looks like maybe she just didn't have a sense of what we normally tell students they're supposed to do and not do."
The rules regarding citation at the time Gay submitted her dissertation in 1997 remain unclear. Regardless, the university's investigation and subsequent corrections have been carried out as the matter receives public attention.
Maybe, if Claudine had invested more into checking plagiarism, all of this would have been avoided.

Text author: Columbia Proof

January 18th, 2024

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