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  • Robert Farago

Harvard Plagiarism Accusations Are Racist!

Are conservatives targeting Black academics?

Harvard University has had some issues lately. Most notably, former President Claudine Gay’s response to on-campus anti-semitism. But it’s Ms. Gay’s inadvertent leadership on the plagiarism front that’s really roiling the academic waters.

Sherri Charleston

A week after Ms. Gay stepped down from the presidency, an anonymous letter accused Harvard’s Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer Sherri Charleston of 40 instances of plagiarism in her 2009 U-M doctoral dissertation, lifting “whole sentences and paragraphs from other scholars’ work without quotation marks.”

Harvard is investigating! Has been since January.

Ms Charleston’s currently busy organizing pre-graduation “affinity celebrations” for disabled, indigenous, Asian, first-generation low-income, Jewish, Latinx, Lavender, Black, veteran and Arab students.

Shirley R. Greene

Next up: Harvard Extension School’s Associate Dean of Students and member of their Faculty of Arts and Sciences.

Shirley R. Green stands accused of 42 examples of plagiarism in her 2008 University of Michigan dissertation.

Ms. Greene is also under investigation (since February). She continues her work as Harvard’s Title IX Resource Coordinator

Christina J. Cross

Harvard Sociology Professor Christina J. Cross is the most recent University academic sitting in the plagiarism crosshairs.

“Conservative activist” Christopher Rufo compared Cross’ descriptions of datasets in her doctoral dissertation with similar descriptions in other papers.

The University’s administration and at least one of her colleagues deny the allegations in strenuous terms, as The Harvard Crimson reports.

Sociology department chair Frank Dobbin, denounced the plagiarism allegations as “absurd.” “We find these bogus claims to be particularly troubling in the context of a series of attacks on Black women in academia with the clear subtext that they have no place in our universities,” the statement read. “Dr. Cross is a brilliant scholar who we ranked at the very top of our pool of applicants when we hired her, from a field of hundreds, on the strength of her scholarship.”

About That "Clear Subtext"…

The fact that all four Harvard University employees accused of plagiarism are black women involved in Diversity Equity and Inclusion has convinced many members of the wider community that the accusations are racially-motivated.

Fellow Substacker Don Moynihan, for example, declares the series of charges Open season on scholars of race.

The game plan is simple. Selectively target scholars who study race, who will be primarily scholars of color. Launch an anonymous accusation. Then report on this as newsworthy in right wing media, hoping the mainstream media will pick it up… …the message is that the topic of race, and the Black scholars that disproportionately pursue the topic, simply do not belong in elite institutions.

Moynihan makes a convincing case that Ms. Greene’s academic paper is sound. He is not, however, alone in his assertion that plagiarism accusations targeting black women academics studying race relations are racist., for example, sounds the alarm on Intensifying attacks on black scholars.

Jonathan Bailey, an expert on plagiarism, said in an interview that the arguments presented by Rufo and others are not at all concerned with anything academic, but essentially political stunts. “It’s using plagiarism allegations, not to address issues of academic or research integrity, but rather to address political or social grievances that a person may have.”

The suspicion about “social grievances” aimed at Black academics has spread beyond Harvard’s hallowed halls.

When Clayton State University recently fired its first Black female provost, had this to say about that:

While university officials say it was because an investigation found multiple inaccuracies on Kimberly McLeod’s curriculum vitae, observers inside and outside the metro-Atlanta institution believe her experience may be part of a larger trend in higher education.

Racism or Accountability?

There is an alternate explanation for this “racist trend,” one that ties into Harvard’s recent Supreme Court defeat on its affirmative action admissions policy: Black students are subject to lower standards and less academic scrutiny than other demographic groups.

Needless to say, this is not a politically correct analysis of the plagiarism claims bedeviling Harvard. Not considered an appropriate starting point for discussions of DEI vs. academic rigor.

Not to put too fine a point on it, are we looking at victim mentality as a self-deluding disingenuous response to academic accountability? We report, you decide.

Meanwhile, Harvard University applications for the next academic year are down five percent. Perhaps a Harvard degree has become too expensive, on multiple levels.



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