US House expands Harvard probe to include plagiarism allegations against Claudine Gay

In a letter addressed to Harvard Corporation Senior Fellow Penny Pritzker, Chairwoman Foxx requested detailed information on the university's response to the allegations, which she termed 'credible.'

US House expands Harvard probe to include plagiarism allegations against Claudine Gay
AP Photo/Steven Senne
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The Republican-controlled House has broadened its investigation into Harvard University, introducing a new line of inquiry centered around allegations of plagiarism against the university's President, Claudine Gay.

The allegations date back to the 1990s when Gay was a student. Education and the Workforce Committee Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC) spearheaded the expanded probe, building upon an earlier investigation into reported anti-Semitism across prestigious academic institutions, the Daily Wire reported.

In a letter addressed to Harvard Corporation Senior Fellow Penny Pritzker, Chairwoman Foxx requested detailed information on the university's response to the allegations, which she termed "credible."

“An allegation of plagiarism by a top school official at any university would be reason for concern, but Harvard is not just any university. It styles itself as one of the top educational institutions in the country,” Foxx wrote.

The claims were initially brought to light by the Manhattan Institute’s Christopher Rufo, journalist Chris Brunet, and the Washington Free Beacon.

Foxx expressed deep concern over the impact of such allegations on Harvard's reputation, emphasizing the university's self-styled position as a leading educational institution.

Foxx's letter highlighted the Harvard College Honor Code, which strongly emphasizes academic integrity and explicitly condemns plagiarism. She questioned the consistency in applying these standards across the university's community, especially among its faculty and leadership. Foxx also pointed out that federal funding to Harvard is contingent upon adherence to recognized accreditor standards, specifically the New England Commission of Higher Education in this case.

“Our concern is that standards are not being applied consistently, resulting in different rules for different members of the academic community,” Foxx added. “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. Students must be evaluated fairly, under known standards – and have a right to see that faculty are, too.”

The controversy around President Gay's academic integrity coincides with her facing criticism for recent congressional testimony. During the hearing, Gay suggested that “context” determined whether calls for genocide against Jews on campus violated the school's policies on bullying and harassment.

The fallout from her testimony led to the initial House investigation into Harvard, the University of Pennsylvania, and MIT. Subsequently, UPenn's President Elizabeth Magill resigned amid mounting pressure.

Foxx's letter to Harvard demands various records, including documents related to the independent review of the plagiarism allegations, records of disciplinary actions related to academic dishonesty, and communications with the regional accreditor regarding academic integrity standards.

While Gay has defended her scholarship and academic integrity, stating she has adhered to the highest academic standards throughout her career, the ongoing investigations and discussions signify a critical moment for Harvard University. Major donors including billionaire hedge fund manager Bill Ackman signaled their intention to pull funding from the university.

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