Report: Investigation Reveals Alleged Plagiarism in Harvard President Claudine Gay’s PhD Dissertation on Diversity Hiring

Christopher Rufo and Chris Brunet have uncovered allegations against Harvard University President Claudine Gay, accusing her of plagiarism in her PhD dissertation. These claims surfaced after Gay defended antisemitism on campus, following her earlier criticism of actions such as misgendering and failure to respect preferred pronouns.

Rufo and Brunet’s investigation reveals that in her 1997 dissertation titled “Taking Charge: Black Electoral Success and the Redefinition of American Politics,” Gay replicated “at least three problematic usage and citation patterns.” Notably, they highlighted a section where she duplicated “nearly verbatim” an entire paragraph from a prior work by Lawrence Bobo and Franklin Gilliam titled “Race, Sociopolitical Participation, and Black Empowerment.”

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Rufo and Brunet observed that despite Gay acknowledging these authors and their paper, “she reproduces their wording verbatim, altering only a few minor terms, without using quotation marks.” They contend that this behavior goes against Harvard’s plagiarism policy. Additionally, they flagged her use of language from Richard Shingles, Susan Howell, and Deborah Fagan, as well as additional material from Dr. Carol Swain and Gary King.

Responding to the plagiarism allegations, Dr. Swain stated, “I’ve recently been made aware of @realchrisrufo’s analysis regarding #ClaudineGay’s work and the allegations of plagiarism. I haven’t read the articles or books in question. However, two thoughts come to mind: imitation is often regarded as a form of flattery, and secondly, Dr. Gay’s committee, reviewers, and colleagues should have identified these alleged infractions. I’ll release a statement once I gather more information. Presently, it appears she’s a victim of the ‘Adversity of Diversity.’”

Rufo contends that this constitutes another violation of Harvard’s policy against “verbatim plagiarism.” He calls for an investigation into Gay’s academic work by Harvard’s Board of Overseers and advocates for her resignation or removal by the board.

Prominent Harvard benefactor Bill Ackman, who has suspended donations to the institution, has criticized Gay and the antisemitic incidents at the school. Ackman mentioned discussions with a senior faculty member at Harvard who deemed the allegations of plagiarism as “credible.”

Earlier in the week, Ackman asserted that Gay was a “diversity hire,” citing information from someone directly involved in the Harvard president search, indicating that candidates were evaluated based on the DEI office’s criteria.

She testified before Congress on Tuesday and was asked by Rep. Elise Stefanik,

“You are president of Harvard so I assume you are familiar with the term ‘Intifada,’ correct?” Gay confirmed she’d heard the term.

“And you understand that the use of the term ‘intifada’ in the context of the Israeli-Arab conflict is indeed a call for violent armed resistance against the State of Israel, including violence against civilians and the genocide of Jews. Are you aware of that?” Stefanik asked.

“That type of hateful speech is personally abhorrent to me,” Gay said.

“And there have been multiple marches at Harvard with student chanting ‘There is only one solution. Intifada revolution’ and ‘Globalize the Intifada,’ is that correct?” Stefanik asked, referencing the numberous anti-Israel marches, rallies and protests that have taken place on he Harvard campus following the brutal massacre of Israelis by Hamas on October 7.

“I’ve heard that thoughtless, reckless, and hateful language on our campus, yes,” Gay said.

“So based upon your testimony, you understand that this call for intifada is to commit genocide against the Jewish people in Israel and globally, correct?” Stefanik asked.

Gay refused to answer the question, saying “I will say again, that type of hateful speech is personally abhorrent to me.”

Do you believe that type of hateful speech is contrary to Harvard’s Code of Conduct or is it allowed at Harvard?” Stefanik pressed.

“It is at odds with the values of Harvard,” Gay waffled.

“Can you not say here that it is against the Code of Conduct at Harvard?” Stefanik asked.

We embrace a commitment to free expression even of views that are objectionable, offensive, hateful – it’s when that speech crosses into conduct that violates our policies against bullying, harassment, intimidation…” Gay said.

“Does that speech not cross that barrier? Does that speech not call for the genocide of Jews and the elimination of Israel? You testified that you understand that that is the definition of “intifada.” Is that speech according to the Code of Conduct or not?” Stefanik asked.

“We embrace a commitment to free expression and give a wide berth to free expression even of views that are objectionable, outrageous and offensive,” Gay said.

“You and I both know that that is not the case,” Stefanik said. “You are aware that Harvard ranked dead last when it came to free speech, are you not aware of that report?”

“As I’ve observed earlier,” Gay said, “I reject that characterization of our campus.’

Gay later expressed remorse for her remarks and the omission of denouncing antisemitism or supporting calls for a Jewish genocide. In an interview with the school newspaper, she stated, “I am sorry. Words matter. When words amplify distress and pain, I don’t know how you could feel anything but regret.”

She clarified that she became entangled in a protracted and confrontational exchange about policies and procedures, leading to her regrettable statements.

Similar sentiments were shared by University of Pennsylvania President Liz Magill, who subsequently resigned under pressure arising from her comments.