top of page

Harvard's Integrity at Stake: Plagiarism Allegations Against President Claudine Gay Sparks Debate

Over the weekend, a significant bombshell was dropped about Harvard University’s new President, Claudine Gay. 

 Exposes Harvard president

The headlines were clear. Everyone wanted to know if

“Claudine Gay is a Plagiarist”, did Harvard University know, and what will they do now that the information has surfaced?

google on Harvard President

I was shown the X (Twitter) thread unveiling the alleged issues. Scrolling through, the discontent was heavily present.

theyre exposing harvard president

After reading the exposé by Christopher Rufo and Christopher Brunet, where it's alleged that “Gay has been accused of bullying colleagues, suppressing free speech, overseeing a racist admissions program, and, following the Hamas terror campaign against Israel, failing to stand up to rampant anti-Semitism on campus.”  I felt a wave of emotions. Being the pragmatic businesswoman and Harvard student that I am, I decided to research on my own and compare the results. Needless to say, it was quite interesting. 

expose on harvard president

Back on the initial thread, some argued that she did give due credit when she mentioned them, she just didn't add the marks highlighting a common citation issue among students…however, others have pointed out that Harvard’s schools would not permit these frequent punctuation issues to pass if this were a student’s paper; especially being that it appears to be President Gay's dissertation. Additionally, there were several instances of what appeared to be, and as Harvard would call it, verbatim plagiarism.

discourse over harvard president

The expectation is clear: leaders, including the president, should adhere to the same rigorous standards as students to maintain integrity. This ensures a level playing field and upholds the reputation of the institution. If Harvard has strict rules for students, it makes sense for those standards to apply universally. Consistency in addressing plagiarism maintains credibility across the board.

harvard university policys

Harvard University, as a whole, has an extremely strict plagiarism policy; some would even call it “unreasonably strict” without the resource of a dedicated course for such an important part of academia. When I asked for details about this policy, I was told that Harvard has the right to suspend (and even expel) students who plagiarize; Intentionally or not.

"It is important that you understand that the Board does not consider intentionality---It does not matter whether the plagiarism was intentional or unintentional.

-Susan S. Donnelly

Secretary of the Administrative Board

Assistant Dean of Student Policy & Governance

DCE | Harvard University

harvard university policy

harvard university policy

Recently Harvard updated its sites to mention that instructors are permitted to use AI technology to identify if a student is plagiarizing. There is still lots of question around the ethics of these types of programs as they are not capable of identifying neurodiverse behaviors in writing, and they seem to only identify similarities (we’ve tested the programs ourselves) 

 Mind you, there are currently no courses to aid students in proper citations, specifically. While there are those excellent instructors who put in the effort to ensure their students are academically strong and fully knowledgable in proper citations…this tends to be a rare occurrence and it’s not guaranteed that you will receive the guidance; no matter how much you ask. Instead, you are told to visit the “writing center” and hope you can get an appointment. But that’s a larger topic for another time.

harvard uses Ai not instructors to review papers

Plagiarism is a very serious issue, that should not be easily dismissed. That being said, transparency and accountability are crucial in educational institutions.  It's puzzling that a president could assume office without a comprehensive review of their work. This oversight raises questions about the overall scrutiny applied to leadership appointments, emphasizing the need for thorough assessments to maintain trust within the academic community.

Maintaining consistency and transparency in academic standards is paramount. Whether student or president, everyone should be held to the same rigorous expectations. This ensures a fair and trustworthy educational environment, where integrity prevails, safeguarding the reputation of the institution and the pursuit of knowledge for all.

This entire revelation begs the question: 

How can a university, known for its stringent plagiarism policies and heavily stated “commitment to academic integrity”, allow its highest-ranking official to assume office without a thorough review of her body of work?

In the realm of academia, where diversity should be celebrated, President Claudine Gay's alleged engagement in questionable practices reverberates across the student body. As only the second woman and the sole woman of color to hold the presidency, her actions bring to light concerns about a potentially tarnished representation (for women and women of color) in leadership, as well as fairness and equal treatment. The potential breach of academic integrity raises questions about disparate standards applied to leaders versus students, perpetuating a sense of injustice.

The impact on the student body is profound. When accused of plagiarism, students face constraints like a brief two-page response without the ability to appeal and suspension or expulsion. This prompts concerns about fairness, accountability, and institutional mechanisms for ensuring academic honesty.

The question persists: How can Harvard maintain its commitment to academic integrity if its leaders are not subject to the same scrutiny and accountability as its students?

As the spotlight intensifies on the allegations against President Claudine Gay, Harvard University's board holds the key to the controversy's resolution. Their decision on whether the missing quotation characters and paraphrasing constitute plagiarism will determine if President Gay faces the same rigorous standards as students. The weighty decision could lead to an intense punishment aligning with the university's policies or dismiss the allegations as "unfortunate" and "unintentional," necessitating an apology to previously punished students for similar infractions, and a reevaluation of Harvard's plagiarism policies.

Regardless of the board's verdict, the impact on the student body is undeniable, prompting a critical examination of the university's commitment to equality in academic integrity. This episode extends beyond President Gay, resonating within student spaces, fostering reflection on leadership actions, and urging a collective reconsideration of institutional mechanisms. As Harvard grapples with these pivotal decisions, the outcome will shape the university's future commitment to fairness, accountability, and academic excellence.



About the Author:

Paradise Rodriguez-Bordeaux

🌎Global Business Strategist: Building Your Business To Sustainable Profits

🌟 Philanthropist| Empowerment Mentor

A Paradise Company / Paradise Rodriguez-Bordeaux Inc.

best-selling author, entrepreneur, and thought leader.

   Paradise Rodríguez-Bordeaux, 2022 Human Rights Activist award and 2023 Innovate Leadership award recipient says,   

 "Sustainability is the bare minimum." 

    As an author, coach, and mental health advocate, she is a passionate advocate for those who have faced adversity and discrimination in life. She has been a philanthropist for more than 15 years, giving back to her community by supporting organizations that provide solutions for poverty alleviation and social justice.  Her work as an innovator in business solutions led to the founding of...  Learn More

"We need to consistently produce effectively efficient solutions. 

This world, the communities, it's all of our responsibility. 

   Leaders HAVE to lead."


Rated 0 out of 5 stars.
No ratings yet

Add a rating
bottom of page