Boston’s leading newspaper called out Harvard University for its “confusing” message on plagiarism, after the university backed embattled President Claudine Gay amid allegations she plagiarized past academic writings.
“Last week the university’s governing board released a confusing statement that appeared to confirm a few instances of plagiarism — without using that word,” the Boston Globe editorial board wrote on Monday.
Gay faced scrutiny last week after media outlets reported several instances of alleged plagiarism in Gay’s past writings. The Harvard Corporation said an independent academic probe discovered “a few instances of inadequate citation” in her writings as well. However, they “found no violation of Harvard’s standards for research misconduct.”
Despite this, Gay said she would be “proactively requesting four corrections in two articles to insert citations and quotation marks that were omitted from the original publications.”
The Globe accused Harvard of putting out a seemingly “contradictory” message on plagiarism.
“If Gay didn’t violate any standards of research, why would she need to correct anything?” the paper asked.
Harvard’s own guidelines on plagiarism published on its website don’t seem to fit with the governing board’s statement either, the Globe noted. Under a section entitled, “What Constitutes Plagiarism?,” the university says “it is considered plagiarism to draw any idea or any language from someone else without adequately crediting that source in your paper.”
The university goes on to call this “unacceptable” act, “stealing” someone else’s work, whether “intentionally or by accident.”
However, the paper pointed to Havard’s faculty of arts and science’s “Interim Policy and Procedures for Responding to Allegations of Research Misconduct” which has a different qualifier for plagiarism, saying that it must be committed “intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly.”
Harvard’s confusing guidelines, along with the governing board’s statement, are “muddying what should be a clear-cut line and creating ambiguity about academic standards,” the paper argued.
“For the professors who have to enforce plagiarism rules in the trenches, it matters what message Harvard sends about its guidelines,” it added.
An investigation by the Washington Free Beacon found that in four papers published between 1993 and 2017, including her doctoral dissertation, Gay “paraphrased or quoted nearly 20 authors—including two of her colleagues in Harvard University’s department of government—without proper attribution.”
The Manhattan Institute’s Christopher Rufo and journalist Christopher Brunet also published instances of what they said were problematic sections of her Ph.D. dissertation that “violate Harvard’s own stated policies on academic integrity.”
The plagiarism accusations come on the heels of Gay’s controversial testimony before Congress responding to antisemitism on campus.
During the hearing, Gay would not give a clear answer when asked if calls for genocide against Jews violated Harvard policy.
The Harvard Corporation also addressed these comments, which Gay already apologized for, in voicing their “unanimous” support for her in their statement.
“As members of the Harvard Corporation, we today reaffirm our support for President Gay’s continued leadership of Harvard University. Our extensive deliberations affirm our confidence that President Gay is the right leader to help our community heal and to address the very serious societal issues we are facing,” the Harvard Corporation wrote in its statement.
“So many people have suffered tremendous damage and pain because of Hamas’s brutal terrorist attack, and the University’s initial statement should have been an immediate, direct, and unequivocal condemnation,” the statement continued. “Calls for genocide are despicable and contrary to fundamental human values. President Gay has apologized for how she handled her congressional testimony and has committed to redoubling the University’s fight against antisemitism.”
Harvard did not respond to a request for comment by Fox News Digital.
Fox News’ Brian Flood and David Rutz contributed to this report.