Carol Swain accuses Harvard president of plagiarism in WSJ op-ed

'Ms. Gay’s damage to me is aggravated because her early work was in the area where my research is considered seminal. Her scholarship on black congressional representation, electoral districting and descriptive representation builds on terrain where I plowed the ground,' Swain wrote.

Carol Swain accuses Harvard president of plagiarism in WSJ op-ed
AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein, File
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Carol Swain, the writer and legal expert who claims her work was copied by Harvard President Claudine Gay, criticized Harvard University in a recently published opinion piece. She accused the institution of holding "minorities of high pedigree to a lower standard.”

In an op-ed published by The Wall Street Journal, Swain discussed the purported plagiarism by Gay, which was recently highlighted by researchers Christopher Rufo and Christopher Brunet. Swain argued that the lack of proper citation to her work by the Harvard president was detrimental not only to her but also to the broader academic community.

“Ms. Gay’s damage to me is aggravated because her early work was in the area where my research is considered seminal. Her scholarship on black congressional representation, electoral districting and descriptive representation builds on terrain where I plowed the ground,” Swain wrote.

“When scholars aren’t cited adequately or their work is ignored, it harms them because academic stature is determined by how often other researchers cite your work,” she added. “Ms. Gay had no problem riding on the coattails of people whose work she used without proper attribution.”

In her dissertation, Gay faces accusations of incorporating passages from other scholars' works at least three times. These instances include purportedly using content from Swain’s 1993 book, “Black Faces, Black Interests: The Representation of African Americans in Congress,” and an article she penned in 1997. Additionally, Gay is accused of copying “nearly verbatim” from Lawrence Bobo and Franklin Gilliam in their paper titled “Race, Sociopolitical Participation, and Black Empowerment.”

Harvard has stood Gay’s work, and conducted a review of her work that “revealed a few instances of inadequate citation.” The Ivy League school added that her failure to cite the works she pulled from didn’t violate the university’s standards.

“In a world where the privilege of diversity is king, Ms. Gay was able to parlay mediocre research into tenure and administrative advancement at what was once considered a world-class university,” she wrote. “Harvard can’t condemn Ms. Gay because she is the product of an elite system that holds minorities of high pedigree to a lower standard. This harms academia as a whole, and it demeans Americans, of all races, who had to work for everything they earned.”

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