Harvard’s president, Dr. Claudine Gay,is accused of lifting words, phrases and sentences from other sources without proper attribution. Most, if not all, of the examples below are written in technical and academic jargon, not meant to convey sweeping or original ideas.
But her papers sometimes lift passages verbatim from other scholars and at other times make minor adjustments, like changing the word “adage” to “popular saying” or “Black male children” to “young black athletes.”
Here are five examples of Dr. Gay’s work that are under scrutiny, comparing her writing with that of the scholars listed.
Jennifer L. Hochschild
Dr. Gay is accused of plagiarizing two sentences in the acknowledgments of her 1997 Harvard dissertation from the acknowledgments in the 1996 book “Facing Up to the American Dream: Race, Class, and the Soul of the Nation,” by the Harvard political scientist Jennifer L. Hochschild.
Dr. Hochschild: “Sandy Jencks showed me the importance of getting the data right and of following where they lead without fear or favor,” adding later that Mr. Jencks “drove me much harder than I sometimes wanted to be driven.”
Dr. Gay thanked her thesis adviser, Gary King, who “reminded me of the importance of getting the data right and following where they lead without fear or favor.” She also thanked her family, who “drove me harder than I sometimes wanted to be driven.”
Another allegation cites language from a 1993 paper that Dr. Gay published in the journal Origins. The paper, “Between Black and White: The Complexity of Brazilian Race Relations,” was written while she was a graduate student at Harvard and analyzes the role of race in Brazilian society.
In one lengthy section, Dr. Gay discusses the formation of a coalition called the Unified Movement Against Racial Discrimination.
She describes the “expulsion of four young black athletes from the volleyball team of the Tiete Yacht Club because of their color.”
Three years earlier, David Covin, then a professor at California State University, Sacramento, wrote about “the dismissal of four Black male children from the volleyball team of the Tiete Yacht Club in May, 1978, because of their color.” His paper, “Afrocentricity in O Movimento Negro Unificado,” appeared in the Journal of Black Studies.
Dr. Gay’s paper does not attribute the passage about the athletes to Dr. Covin, who died this year, nor to a source whom Dr. Covin credited in his paper. Dr. Covin’s name does not appear in the suggested further reading at the end of the paper.
In a statement Wednesday, Harvard said: “While Gay’s 1993 work in Origins journal was initially included in the scope of the independent review, the independent panel and the subcommittee of the Corporation considered the article outside its purview due to the age of the article and because articles included in that journal generally do not include citations or quotations.”
George Reid Andrews
Dr. Gay is also accused of copying language, with slight modifications, in her paper “Between Black and White” from a 1992 paper “Black Political Protest in São Paulo, 1888-1988” by the history professor George Reid Andrews in the Journal of Latin American Studies.
The Andrews paper says that the “rhetoric and aspirations” of a younger generation of Afro-Brazilians with “one or more years of university study” seemedremoved from those of poor slum dwellers. Dr. Gay’s paper uses the phrase “aspirations and rhetoric,” reversing the order of those words, and refers to one or more years of “university education” rather than “university study.”
Her article does not credit Dr. Andrews, a professor at the University of Pittsburgh, but lists a book by him as suggested further reading.
Stephen Ansolabehere and James M. Snyder Jr.
Dr. Gay’s 2017 paper “A Room for One’s Own? The Partisan Allocation of Affordable Housing,” in Urban Affairs Review, also contains similarities from a passage in Stephen Ansolabehere and James M. Snyder Jr.’s paper, “Party Control of State Government and the Distribution of Public Expenditures.” It was published in 2006 in The Scandinavian Journal of Economics.
Dr. Gay’s paper examines whether politicians steer housing investment toward their own constituents.
Dr. Ansolabehere and Dr. Snyder write: “Theoretical arguments predict an interaction between partisanship of voters and party control of state government. Democratic counties are expected to receive more transfers when the state is under Democratic control …”
Dr. Gay writes: “Theory predicts an interaction between county partisanship and party control, such that the more Democratic a county, the more LIHTC allocations it should receive when the state is under Democratic control …”
Dr. Gay cites Dr. Ansolabehere and Dr. Snyder, both at M.I.T. at the time and now professors at Harvard, but not in this particular passage.
Thomas E. Skidmore
Critics have also pointed to similarities in Dr. Gay’s “Between Black and White” and the paper “Toward a Comparative Analysis of Race Relations Since Abolition in Brazil and the United States,” written 21 years earlier by Thomas E. Skidmore in the Journal of Latin American Studies.
Dr. Skidmore: “The Brazilian adage that ‘we are becoming one people’ rests on an implicit assumption that this final amalgam will be, at worst, a light mulatto phenotype and at best a moorish Mediterranean physical type. The ideal of whitening differs so categorically from white European and North American phobias about race mixture …”
Dr. Gay: “The Brazilian concept of ‘whitening,’ symbolized in the popular saying ‘we are becoming one people,’ represents an ideology entirely different from white European and North American phobias about race mixture prevalent at the turn of this century.”
She does not attribute the passage to Dr. Skidmore, who died in 2016, but she does list him(twice) among suggestions for further reading, a review of their papers shows.