What was first dismissed as a right-wing conspiracy is now a major Ivy League scandal that won’t go away.

Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash.

Perhaps USA Today’s Ingrid Jacques said it best: “It’s been a bad month for Harvard President (for now) Claudine Gay.”

“Whether it’s Harvard president or Senate staff, identity politics can’t excuse bad behavior,” concluded Ms. Jacques on December 21, 2023, lamenting, “the fact that right-leaning media discovered these stories has garnered more attention than the discoveries themselves — at least at first.”

“It started with her disastrous testimony before Congress,” Jacques explained to USA Today readers. “When asked if calling for the genocide of Jews is a violation of Harvard’s code of conduct, she gave a wishy-washy answer about it being “context” dependent. Her testimony pointed to a startling double standard on what speech is allowed on campus, with some groups protected more than others.”

In addition to that scandal, or perhaps because of it, Gay has since found herself accused of setting another dangerous precedent of double standards on campus.

Accusations of serial plagiarism against Harvard President Dr. Claudine Gay have in recent weeks become a front-and-center Harvard scandal.

While Dr. Gay initially seemed likely to weather the scandal, and Harvard officials seemed poised to stand behind their President, Gay’s position has started to look less secure as more accusations have surfaced.

Harvard Corporation Members Did Not Discuss Gay’s Removal During Private Dinner, Faculty in Attendance Say,” Emma H. Haidar and Cam E. Kettles for the Harvard Crimson.

It was one of those stories that might have left some readers wondering if the opposite wasn’t true.

“Two members of the Harvard Corporation and four faculty members discussed a perceived culture of self-censorship on campus during a private dinner last Tuesday, but they did not address Claudine Gay’s future as University president, according to all four faculty in attendance,” insisted Haidar and Kettles for the Crimson, perhaps a little too strenuously.

Whether or not Harvard brass discussed, in the vaguest terms, the option to remove Gay, the option is certainly being discussed in other quarters — and openly.

Harvard’s Claudine Gay should resign,” Ruth Marcus probably surprised readers of the Washington Post on December 23, 2023.

“She plagiarized her acknowledgments,” began Marcus, reluctantly. “I take no joy in saying this, but Harvard President Claudine Gay ought to resign. Her track record is unbefitting the president of the country’s premier university. Remaining on the job would send a bad signal to students about the gravity of her conduct.”

“This was not my original instinct,” admitted Marcus. “I thought, and continue to believe, that Gay’s accusers and their allies were motivated more by conservative ideology and the desire to score points against the most elite of institutions than by any commitment to academic rigor. This was, and is, accompanied by no small dose of racism and the conviction that a Black woman couldn’t possibly be qualified to lead Harvard.”

“In addition, the initial reports of plagiarism seemed small-bore,” Marcus explained. “Gay’s missteps did not seem to involve sweeping appropriations of carefully crafted words or thoughtful ideas but a failure to put mostly boilerplate language inside quotation marks.”

An examination of the evidence, however, led Marcus to the opposite conclusion. Far from being “small bore”, the accusations against Gay seem to have legs.

Still, Dr. Gay has no shortage of powerful defenders, in and out of the press.

Obama privately lobbied on Harvard President Claudine Gay’s behalf amid antisemitism controversy: Report,” revealed Nikolas Lanum for FOX News on December 22, 2023.

But even with such staunch defenders, Gay’s tenure as Harvard President might not survive if the scandal continues to deepen, as it seems likely to do. It is doubtful that such bastions of progressivism as the Washington Post would openly advocate for the removal of Gay barring a preponderance of evidence.

Claudine Gay Update — Now It’s Allegations Of Data Falsification,” reported Francis Menton for the Manhattan Contrarian on December 24, 2023.

“It was less than three weeks ago, December 5, when the name of Claudine Gay, President of Harvard University, suddenly burst into the news,” began Menton. “That was the day that she, along with the Presidents of Penn and MIT, testified before Congress — and could not give a clear answer as to whether it was against the policy at their schools to call for the genocide of Jews.”

“In the few short weeks since December 5, the news as to Ms. Gay has gotten worse and worse, seemingly by the day,” wrote Menton. “First, some big donors ramped up threats to pull their funding. Then came a handful of allegations of plagiarism found in a few among Ms. Gay’s small number of academic papers.”

“On December 12 the New York Times reported that the Harvard Corporation had appointed a special committee to investigate the allegations of plagiarism and that the committee had cleared Ms. Gay,” Menton continued. “Then it emerged that a source had given the allegations of plagiarism to the New York Post back in October, and the Post had sent them to Harvard for confirmation — only to get in return a threatening letter from the Clare Locke law firm (the same firm that had recovered over $700 million from Fox in the Dominion Voting case) asserting that the accusations of plagiarism were ‘demonstrably false.’”

“Then (December 19 in the Washington Free Beacon) there emerged a new dossier now with some 40 instances of alleged plagiarism — almost four for each of Ms. Gay’s eleven academic articles — many of the new allegations much more serious than the ones that the special committee had just deemed minor,” Menton concluded.

Will Claudine Gay Keep Her Job?” wondered Robert Kuttner for the American Prospect on December 22, 2023. “The microscopic reviews of Gay’s dissertation and her published papers are persisting.”

Whether or not Gay keeps her post at Harvard may depend on what these “microscopic reviews” may yet uncover.

(contributing writer, Brooke Bell)