Tuesday 19 December 2023

Scholar Allegedly Plagiarized By Harvard President Scorches University: ‘Elite System’ Holding Minorities To ‘A Lower Standard’

 Carol Swain, the author and legal scholar whose work was allegedly plagiarized by Harvard President Claudine Gay, blasted Harvard University in an op-ed published Sunday, saying the school is part of a system “that holds minorities of high pedigree to a lower standard.” 

In her opinion piece for The Wall Street Journal, Swain addressed Gay’s alleged plagiarism that researchers Christopher Rufo and Christopher Brunet brought to light last week, writing that the Harvard president’s failure to cite her work harmed her and “academia as a whole.” 

“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 is accused of lifting passages from other scholars’ works at least three times. Along with allegedly pulling from Swain’s 1993 book, “Black Faces, Black Interests: The Representation of African Americans in Congress” and an article she wrote in 1997, Gay also allegedly lifted “nearly verbatim” work from Lawrence Bobo and Franklin Gilliam in their paper called “Race, Sociopolitical Participation, and Black Empowerment.”

Harvard has stood by its president amid the scandal, saying it conducted an independent review of Gay’s work, which “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. 


Swain, who previously taught at Vanderbilt University and Princeton University, said the backlash to Gay’s alleged plagiarism should be much more severe but lamented that many of the others Gay is accused of plagiarizing “aren’t as incensed” as she is because “they are elites who have benefited from a system that protects its own.” Swain then slammed Harvard for standing by Gay as its president since Gay’s work provides no “ground-breaking originality.” 

“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.”

Swain also addressed the plagiarism controversy at Harvard on a Saturday Extra edition of The Daily Wire’s “Morning Wire” over the weekend.  Swain said Gay’s alleged plagiarism and her recent troubling comments before Congress on anti-Semitism have been a “low point for American higher education.” She then slammed Harvard for attempting to “redefine plagiarism so that it can retain its first ever black president – who was clearly promoted based on diversity, equity, and inclusion standards.”  

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