Congress Grants Harvard Extension to Address Plagiarism Controversy

Harvard University has been granted an extension to respond to the U.S. House of Representatives committee investigating the plagiarism by the school’s president, Claudine Gay. The House Education Committee had asked Harvard to provide answers about the plagiarism scandal by Dec. 29, but that deadline has been pushed back due to the holidays and office closures.

Harvard has not responded to requests for comment on the scandal. The university’s president Claudine Gay has been accused of plagiarizing in her dissertation and other papers, and the institution has admitted to the act. It cited an independent review of a portion of her work, including direct language from scholars Lawrence Bobo and Franklin Gilliam without using quotation marks.

Despite the plagiarism controversy, Ms. Gay has retained her position and has the backing of the Harvard Corporation, the university’s top governing body. The corporation stated that it has confidence in Ms. Gay’s ability to lead Harvard towards achieving its mission of advancing knowledge, research, and promoting constructive discourse despite the scandal.

House Education Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) wrote to the head of the Harvard Corporation, Penny Pritzker, requesting all documents and communications concerning the review of Ms. Gay’s papers. The committee also asked for information on how the university responded to media inquiries about the plagiarism allegations. This includes communications between Harvard and its accreditor regarding the probe into the allegations and a list of disciplinary actions taken against students or faculty for plagiarism from Jan. 1, 2019, to the present.

Ms. Foxx raised concerns about Harvard applying academic honesty standards consistently and fairly to all its students and staff members. According to Harvard’s annual report, the university investigated 42 incidents of plagiarism and 58 other violations of its honor code in a recent school year and imposed punishment on the students who were found to have violated the code. The letter expressed concerns that different rules might be applied to different members of the academic community, cheapening the mission and the value of education.

Ms. Gay accepted that Harvard would provide the requested materials. The university’s spokesperson also said that they would share information with the panel. Calls for Ms. Gay to be fired have been resisted by the university. They started after Ms. Gay testified to the House in early December and declined to say whether students calling for the genocide of Jews would violate school rules.

Sally Kornbluth, the president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, also testified along with Ms. Gay in front of lawmakers but has remained in her position. On the other hand, the University of Pennsylvania President Elizabeth Magill resigned under pressure after also appearing before lawmakers.

The extension granted to Harvard to respond to the House committee’s probe allows for a thorough and accurate review of the situation. This gives the university an opportunity to address the concerns raised and restore faith in its adherence to academic ethics and values. The Harvard Corporation’s support of Ms. Gay amidst the scandal may also impact the university’s reputation and standing within the academic community and beyond.

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