House Committee Widens Harvard Plagiarism Probe
Americans are watching in disbelief as the vaunted reputation and prestige of Harvard University, once the vanguard of Ivy League schools and a proud cradle of liberal thought, is crumbling under the weight of scandals surrounding its president, Dr. Claudine Gay.
These include a stream of allegations of plagiarism coming on the heels of an intense backlash against Gay’s disastrous testimony in Congress earlier this month, which fueled calls for her resignation and drove lawmakers to seek to defund the Ivy League institution.
Gay denied the charges and Harvard’s board of governors apparently did not have the temerity to fire her. But as additional cases of alleged plagiarism continued to surface, and a House investigative committee demanded the university turn over all communications regarding their handling of the allegations, Gay’s support in the Harvard community evaporated, the NY Times reported.
It was clear her days were numbered.
Plagued by continuing scandal, Harvard’s president proved to be too great a liability to the university after only six months in office. She resigned on Tuesday in a brief message to the Harvard community.
“It is with a heavy heart but a deep love for Harvard that I write to share that I will be stepping down as president,” Gay wrote. Her time in office was the shortest of any president in the history of Harvard, the Times article noted.
The Higher They Climb, The Harder They Fall
Gay’s free fall began at the December congressional hearing, when she downplayed the severity of the bullying and harassment of Jewish students at Harvard. Along with two other Ivy League presidents, she made the shocking statement that calls for genocide against Jews do not automatically violate their universities’ rules.
The testimony drew outrage from many quarters and prompted a bipartisan letter to Harvard’s board of governors signed by 70 congressmen, spearheaded by Rep. Elise Stefanek, R-NY, who had grilled the presidents during the December hearing about the eruption of anti-Semitism at their universities.
The letter condemned Gay’s utter failure in her testimony to uphold basic moral imperatives and questions her fitness to serve as president of the university.
“I was shaken by the pathetic moral depravity on display by the three university presidents from Harvard, MIT and Penn—I’ve never witnessed anything like that,” Stefanek told the NY Post.
The Washington Times noted the “smugness” and condescension of her responses, as if she occupied a higher sphere than the lawmakers questioning her.
Harvard’s board of governors, also known as the Harvard Corporation, which runs the university, called Gay’s comments “regrettable” but chose to support her continued leadership nonetheless.
Refusing to Call Out Plagiarism
With the publicizing of bombshell allegations that Gay had plagiarized in dozens of documented instances over a 24-year period, the Harvard Corporation showed their true colors by again rushing to her defense.
They claimed they had conducted their own (secret) investigation and found only a few cases of “duplicative language or missing citations” that appear “unintentional” and are therefore “insignificant,” the Post article said.
This was cover-up language, critics say, and ended up draw the board of governors themselves into the line of fire. Considered a serious sin in academia, plagiarism in any of its forms including “duplicative language, “research misconduct,” “missing quotations” or any of the euphemisms for copying another person’s work, can get a Harvard student suspended for a full academic year.
Ian Moore, an editorial editor at the celebrated Harvard Crimson, said he was shocked that the university’s leaders were effectively holding students to higher academic standards than the school’s president.
“It’s hypocritical for the university to apply one standard to students and another standard to faculty — and perhaps even a third standard to Claudine Gay,” Moore told the NY Post, which has been at the forefront of ongoing press coverage of Harvard’s anti-Semitism and plagiary scandals.
According to the Washington Free Beacon which was the first publication to break the plagiarism allegations, Gay was hit early this week with six new allegations in a complaint filed with the university.
The new findings cast Harvard’s president as a serial plagiarizer whose literary output is riddled with instances of lifting material from other scholars without quotation marks, citations or attribution.
Former professor Carol Swain whose work Gay is accused of plagiarizing, said Harvard lacked the courage to fire its first black president, and that Gay is therefore getting a free pass.
A Washington Times op-ed explained why the courage to confront Gay is absent. “Within the liberal ivory tower of Harvard, it’s impermissible for a white professor to accuse a woman of color of [doing something unethical] or of being intellectually mediocre,” the author wrote. He or she would be branded a racist.
“Only a black professor could possibly make that accusation.”
With Tuesday’s announcement of Gay’s resignation, it appears that the board of governors found the courage to brave whatever backlash they might have to endure for her ouster.
Rep. Stefanek: Impose Tough Penalties for Depriving Jewish Students of Title VII Rights
Even with Gay out of the picture, Harvard’s troubles are far from over. Rep. Stefanik and GOP colleagues are demanding the university be stripped of billions of dollars in federal payments and tax breaks over its failure to tackle antisemitism on campus, a CNN article said.
The school benefits from massive amounts of money in direct federal payments — and even more in sweeping tax breaks which have helped make it the world’s richest academic institution, the newspaper said.
The congressmen are working to craft legislation to impose ‘real financial consequences’ for depriving Jewish students of their civil rights under Title VII,” Rep. Stefanik told the New York Post.
“We must defund the rot in America’s higher education,” she contended. “It is unacceptable that any taxpayer dollars are going to universities guilty of promulgating antisemitism. Unacceptable that taxpayer dollars should be supporting professors, students and staff who have openly called for the genocide of Jews.”
Another congressman, Rep. Eli Crane, R-Az, highlighted similar thoughts in a statement to the Post. He said he and his colleagues are introducing a bill to make Harvard and other colleges face tough penalties if they are found to have fostered Jew-hatred on campus, in the wake of the October 7 terrorist massacres of Israelis.
“The American higher education system is a racket, forcing taxpayers to first subsidize schools, then roping them into paying off student loans,” Crane said. “The schools make out like bandits, indoctrinating our youth with hate and delusion, all while taxpayers fund the whole thing. My bill starts to combat this scheme.”
Harvard is now facing increasing scrutiny on the huge amount of money it receives from the federal government. The university pocketed a record $676 million this year in direct payments, and a $25 million payment from “Covid rescue” funds, a NY Post article said, based on the school’s 2023 fiscal record.
Harvard’s biggest payload by far are the benefits it receives from its tax-free status. Donations to it are tax-deductible, which makes the Ivy League school a convenient tax-shelter for billionaires.
With an estimated value of $53 billion, Harvard’s endowment is the largest in the country. The school “benefits further from tax breaks because its financiers trade shares, bonds and property without paying capital gains tax, corporation tax or taxes on interest payments and dividends,” the Post article said.
Critics say that with an endowment fund of such an astronomical amount, the university should not be receiving taxpayer money.
“Free Speech” Hypocrisy
Some Harvard alumni have gone on record saying they are ashamed of the direction taken by their alma mater. Harvard graduate and venture capitalist Sam Lessin, told CNN he believes the university has “never been weaker” — and he faults the university’s top brass.
“The Harvard brand is deeply embattled,” Lessin said. “Gay has demonstrated extreme weakness as an administrator and as a leader. The Harvard Corporation has not communicated well with the outside world.”
Lessin pointed to a lower than average number of early applications to Harvard that rival universities did not experience. There is good reason for this, he said, going on to describe Harvard’s sullied image in the public mind, as well as “a culture of fear at Harvard” that media limelight has exposed.
“Everyone is terrified. It’s not a free-speech culture,” he said.
An op-ed in The Hill offered vivid examples of “free-speech” hypocrisy at Harvard.
“Harvard president Gay faced widespread criticism after she struggled in a congressional hearing to explain why her university protects anti-Semitic free speech but not other free speech,” the op-ed said. “She defended free speech praising Hamas — whose very charter repeatedly advocates “killing Jews” — despite having punished other speech that threatened no one.”
“For context,” the author wrote, “Harvard recently forced biologist Carole Hooven to resign for stating in public that biological gender is an immutable fact,” an idea that runs counter to the university’s degenerate “woke” ideology.
“Despite the evident hypocrisy, Gay will keep her job, because she knows how to use power,” the op-ed stated.
The author, a member of the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE) that rates American universities in terms of their protection of freedom of speech, asserts that in Gay’s time as an administrator at Harvard, “that university has plunged to dead last (238th) on FIRE’s free speech rankings.”
A Washington Times op-ed took aim at the mediocrity of Gay’s academic merit, illustrated by the paucity of her published work and by the lack of original thinking in her journal articles, many of which have come under fire for plagiarism.
The article noted that “Ms. Gay’s appointment as Harvard’s president felt like an ‘emperor has no clothes’ moment.”
“Harvard President Claudine Gay evinced no ability to think on her feet [at the congressional hearing], or even adjust wording undoubtedly scripted for her by lawyers,” the Washington Times wrote. Yet despite her brilliant display of dullness, Ms. Gay grinned as though she were the cleverest in the room.”
“How did Harvard’s president rise so far despite such a mediocre academic record?” the author marveled, suggesting that “the truth is now abundantly clear not only on campus but also across the country.”
“Everyone paying attention knows that Harvard picked its president because of her [race/skin color], despite her lack of scholarly accomplishment,” the author wrote. “Yet no one at the university is allowed to admit or even think” this obvious thought.
House Expands Plagiarism Probe
Some current Harvard faculty members mustered the courage to speak out publicly about the need for the board members to resign to salvage Harvard’s reputation.
Kit Parker, professor of bioengineering and applied physics, told CNN in an interview that the “university’s future is in jeopardy and that the board members need to step down.”
“The big question now is, how arrogant is Harvard? And when I say Harvard, I mean the Harvard Corporation. Do they think this is going to go away?” Parker asked.
Judging from a letter sent to the Harvard Corporation last week by Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-N.C., chairwoman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, the answer to that question is clear: Harvard’s days of complacent elitism are likely over, as the university’s faces a moment of reckoning unlike any in its history.
In a letter to senior member of the Harvard Corporation Penny Pritzker, Rep. Foxx pointed out that Harvard’s federal funding relies on its adherence to top academic standards, which obligate an institution to “work to prevent cheating and plagiarism as well as to deal forthrightly with any instances in which they occur.”
“Our concern is that standards are not being applied consistently, resulting in different rules for different members of the academic community,” the letter said.
“If a university is willing to look the other way and not hold faculty accountable for engaging in academically dishonest behavior, it cheapens its mission and the value of its education.”
Rep. Foxx requested copies of “all documents and communications concerning the initial allegations of plagiarism and the ‘independent review’ of President Claudine Gay’s scholarship.”
The congresswoman also demanded the university turn over “all documents and communications concerning allegations of plagiarism by President Gay and the University’s public response to media inquiries about those allegations.”
Donors Close Their Checkbook
Erstwhile loyal supporters of Harvard have halted hundreds of millions of dollars in donations in the aftermath of the scandals roiling the university.
The Lauder Foundation in Vienna cut ties with Harvard this week by withdrawing from a partnership it had with the university since 2014. Lauder Business School officials said they ended the relationship to show “solidarity with the Jewish student community at Harvard.”
The muddied reputation of the world’s richest university has driven away other donors. Earlier this month, billionaire Len Blavatnik, whose family foundation, according to CNN, has donated more than $270 million to the Harvard Business School, joined a growing list of Harvard donors cutting their financial ties with the school.
Billionaire donor Bill Ackman, who has publicly castigated Harvard University and called for Gay to be fired, has also announced his decision to halt his financial support. Ackman has attacked the culture of censorship and suppression of free speech at Harvard, as well as the university’s left-wing radicalization, writing a number of “open letters” to Harvard’s governing board that were also published in the NY Post.
His critique was echoed by business tycoon Dave Portnoy, who according to a CNN article, has vowed to cease hiring Harvard graduates. The article said the number of early applicants to the Ivy League university declined by 17% this year.
Some alumni have even taken the step of cutting their donations to $1 as a symbolic protest of the university’s failures, according to Fortune magazine.
Others have questioned why the Harvard Corporation did not uncover the plagiarism issue before hiring Gay just six months ago. “This is a real failure of the Corporation,” Harvard alumnus Sam Lessin told CNN. “Their fate is very tied up with Gay’s, given the fact they did a search and selected her.”
Journalist Christopher Rufo, who owns the distinction of having been the first journalist to reveal allegations that Gay’s dissertation had plagiarized others’ work, warned in the Free Beacon that “the heat on Harvard’s president would persist in 2024.”
“The Claudine Gay plagiarism scandal is not going away. After the New Year, expect another shoe to drop,” he wrote.
The “shoe drop” came abruptly—but not unexpectedly—this Tuesday as yet another round of allegations of plagiarism grabbed headlines, and Harvard’s first black president announced her resignation.
Who Needs A College Degree?
“A college degree used to be a reliable passport to a better-paying career,” a thought-provoking Newsweek article began. The article goes on to describe a paradigm shift in American culture where the near-worship of college education has considerably weakened.
“To employers, a college degree once signaled a level of knowledge and intellectual skills not shared by someone without a degree. That’s why students and parents have been willing to pay increasingly higher tuition, taking out student loans and second mortgages before the graduates earn a dime,” the article reasons.
“But what if employers lose trust in a college degree?” the author asks, going on to cite the findings of a study that show that employers now believe colleges are not providing the value they once did.
According to a survey cited by the publication, an overwhelming 91 percent of the 70,000 small businesses they surveyed said colleges are not “graduating students with relevant skills that today’s business community needs.”
In a startling departure, it appears many employers now see a college degree as a liability rather than an asset.
Employers aren’t just complaining about the lack of value in a college degree. They’re eliminating it as a requirement for many entry-level jobs, the Newsweek article said. “Companies such as Accenture, Bank of America, Google, IBM, and Walmart no longer require college degrees for hundreds of different positions. And 12 states no longer require even a bachelor’s degree for most government jobs.”
The survey asked employers if they were “more or less likely to consider a job-seeker with a 4-year degree from a major university or college.” Employers were four times more likely to answer in the negative (41 percent) than in the affirmative (10 percent), while an additional 42 percent said it made no difference.
One interviewee observed that college grads “trained to spot micro-aggressions in every mundane interaction” do not make for desirable employees. “They tend to have an ideology that is not compatible with my business culture,” the employer said.
‘Woke’ Won’t Work
The “woke” ideological orthodoxy on campus that won’t tolerate any deviation apparently isn’t doing students any favors, the article noted. “Employers see value in institutions that teach open mindedness, critical thinking and impart useful skills—but not in campuses that leave students with a rigid, extreme ideology.”
In addition, increasingly exorbitant college tuitions will begin turning away potential students in droves if it becomes clear that a college degree no longer provides an automatic passport to a more lucrative job.
Universities and colleges appear to be locked in their own woke bubble, out of sync with mainstream society… How long will it be before parents refuse to shell out tens of thousands of dollars on a traditional college degree that does not open doors to better employment?
And for those students who have to work or borrow their way through school, why would they live on a shoestring budget or take on significant debt to make themselves less employable, the article asks.
These are questions college presidents and administrators would do well to ask themselves.