Pressure is increasing on Harvard University as President Claudine Gay is called to resign after allegations of plagiarism, the latest controversy to engulf the prestigious institution in recent months.
Gay has had to make numerous corrections to previous articles in recent weeks after allegations of plagiarism were raised for his decades-long work.
The controversy brings new scrutiny to Gay and puts even more pressure on Harvard, which has been in the spotlight since October.
In an opinion piece published by the Washington Post over the weekend, deputy page editor Ruth Marcus called on the university president to resign.
“She plagiarized his thanks. I take no joy in saying this, but Harvard President Claudine Gay should resign. Her background is not suitable for the president of the nation’s premier university,” Marcus wrote. “Remaining in office would send the wrong signal to students about the seriousness of his conduct. »
The unrest also reportedly caused frustration among members of the Harvard Corporation, the university’s board of trustees.
The New York Times reported Sunday that a meeting was held last week in which several academics told the board they needed to fix the situation they helped create.
The board has consistently sided with Gay in public, issuing statements defending her against recent controversy over anti-Semitism and plagiarism issues.
“You have to be more ahead of the curve,” Jeffrey Flier, former dean of Harvard Medical School, told board members, according to the Times. “If people say the university makes mistakes, they’re talking about you! »
The Times reported that another person, nonprofit founder Tracy Palandjian, told the board they needed a “generational change” and that firing Gay was not not enough.
The Harvard Corporation announced earlier in December that it had looked into the plagiarism allegations and found no justification for Gay’s dismissal.
“While the analysis found no violations of Harvard’s standards for research misconduct, President Gay is proactively requesting four corrections in two articles to insert citations and quotation marks that were omitted in the original publications,” Harvard Corporation said in a statement.
However, since this statement, Gay has had to make more corrections to his work, including in his 1997 thesis.
In another sign that the controversy is reverberating across campus, The Harvard Crimson, the school’s student newspaper, published an article Monday outlining the corrections Gay has made so far and the criticism the university has faced.
“It’s politically motivated in the first place, but I think they owe it to everyone, in the university community and outside, to show that they really undertook this review with the same diligence that they would do for any other faculty member,” said Nicholas Dirks, a Columbia University professor and former chancellor of the University of California, Berkeley.
Congress is also getting involved and will investigate how the school handled allegations of plagiarism to ensure it is consistent with how allegations would be handled for any student or faculty member.
“The House Committee on Education and the Workforce has begun a review of how Harvard University has handled credible allegations of plagiarism by President Claudine Gay over a 24-year period,” said Education Committee Chair Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.). “An allegation of plagiarism coming from a senior university official would be a cause for concern, but Harvard is not just any university. It bills itself as one of the best educational institutions in the country.
“Our concern is that the standards are not applied consistently, resulting in different rules for different members of the university community. If a university is willing to look the other way and not hold professors accountable for their dishonest academic behavior, it devalues its mission and the value of its education. Students must be evaluated fairly, according to known standards – and have the right to see that professors are as well,” Foxx said.
But experts worry about Congress’ involvement and the implications it could have on higher education.
“Congress does not know how to proceed and should not judge the conduct of professors. That’s not the prerogative of Congress,” said Dirks, author of “City of Intellect: The Uses and Abuses of the University.” “What worries me about all of this broadly is that what happens at Harvard is not going to stay at Harvard and is going to affect the general climate of university governance, academic freedom and fundamental issues that… are definitely under…threat right now.
This is the second investigation against Harvard that the commission has announced, the first occurring after Gay said calling for the genocide of Jewish people would or would not be harassment depending on the context.
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