Claudine Gay, the former President of Harvard University, has stepped down from her position amid mounting allegations of plagiarism.
The resignation was announced on Tuesday and has been perceived by many as a triumph for educational and moral standards. However, an article published by the Associated Press (AP) has stirred controversy by suggesting that conservatives are weaponizing plagiarism to target higher education.
— John McCormack (@McCormackJohn) January 3, 2024
The AP report, authored by Collin Binkley and Moriah Balingit, suggests that the accusations against Gay were primarily driven by political adversaries rather than academic peers. The authors insinuate that the scrutiny and eventual resignation of Gay, who is a Ph.D. holder in government and was a professor at Harvard and Stanford before ascending to the presidency, were largely influenced by her being a Black woman.
The AP’s social media post directing followers to the controversial article received a community note stating, “Plagiarism is a breach of rules for Harvard University. Claudine Gay was ultimately forced to resign for a series of breaches of this policy. Plagiarism – or application of the rules around plagiarism – therefore cannot be considered a ‘weapon.'”
Despite the backlash, some have come out in defense of AP’s publication. Ibram X. Kendi, a proponent of Critical Race Theory, asserted, “This is journalism. Getting closer to what truly happened and why.”
However, many political commentators criticized the AP’s framing of the issue. Statistician and political writer Nate Silver humorously commented on the situation, saying, “Pretty worried about this new chronoweapon that can force you to go back as many as 27 years in time and commit plagiarism.” Senator J.D. Vance (R-OH) also weighed in, stating, “Plagiarism is actually bad. It’s not a ‘conservative weapon.’”
The plagiarism claims against Gay were first spotlighted by Christopher Rufo, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute. He detailed what he believed to be three incidents of plagiarism in Gay’s dissertation, as per Harvard’s standards. In the aftermath, nearly 50 allegations of plagiarism affecting eight of Gay’s 17 published works have emerged.
The AP article also criticized Rufo for his celebratory social media post after Gay’s resignation, wherein he used the term “scalped.” The term was interpreted as a reference to a brutal practice adopted by white colonists against Native Americans. This interpretation was challenged by John McCormack, who tweeted, “You’d think nothing in the article could top the headline, but then you see @AP’s definition of scalping.”
As this story continues to unfold, it serves as a reminder of the importance of maintaining high academic standards and integrity in educational institutions.