Harvard’s plagiarism ‘dilemma’ shows how DEI demands ‘lower standards,’ Wall Street Journal columnist argues


Harvard cannot fire embattled President Claudine Gay because it risks undermining the “entire diversity enterprise,” the Wall Street Journal’s Jason Riley argued in his opinion column on Wednesday.

Harvard’s top governing body has stood by Gay following intense backlash to controversial comments she made about antisemitism during a recent congressional hearing and accusations she plagiarized several of her academic writings. 

Riley, a Fox News contributor, pointed out how both Gay and University of Pennsylvania President Liz Magill were “guilty of indulging antisemitism on campus,” but faced different fates. Magill resigned on December 9.

“You don’t need a Harvard degree to understand that Ms. Gay, the school’s first Black president, advances the diversity imperatives of her institution in ways that Ms. Magill, who is White, doesn’t,” he argued.

BOSTON GLOBE DEMANDS HARVARD STATE CLEARLY IF PRESIDENT PLAGIARIZED: ‘IT MATTERS’

During the hearing on antisemitism, Magill, Gay, and Kornbluth all gave “evasive” answers when asked by Rep. Elise Stefanik if calls for the genocide of Jews would violate their institutions’ policies on bullying and harassment. (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

“Anyone suggesting that Ms. Gay deserves the same treatment as Ms. Magill stands accused of racism by liberal elites who maintain that all Black people not named Clarence Thomas are off-limits to criticism,” the Black conservative columnist argued.

NAACP President Derrick Johnson and others have argued Gay is being singled out because of racism. Johnson claimed that “attacks on her leadership are nothing more than political theatrics advancing a White supremacist agenda.”

Riley panned Gay’s defenders for behaving as though her academic qualifications earned her the top position at the elite school and it “had nothing to do with race.”

“That’s baloney and they know it,” he wrote.

He contrasted Gay’s achievements with her two predecessors, Lawrence Bacow and Drew Gilpin Faust, as well as Liz Magill’s, to argue Gay “wasn’t hired for her academic chops.”

“The truth is that Ms. Gay’s defenders don’t want to acknowledge that her administrative experience and scholarly credentials don’t begin to match those of other people in similar posts,” he claimed.

HARVARD ATTEMPTING TO ‘REDEFINE’ PLAGIARISM TO PROTECT EMBATTLED PRESIDENT CLAUDINE GAY, ALLEGED VICTIM SAYS

Derrick Johnson & Claudine Gay

NAACP President Derrick Johnson recently defended embattled Harvard President Claudine Gay, claiming “attacks on her leadership are nothing more than political theatrics advancing a white supremacist agenda.” (Getty)

The columnist referenced recent comments by billionaire Harvard donor Bill Ackman, accusing the university of hiring based on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion criteria rather than merit.

After speaking with top faculty at the university, Ackman wrote on X, “It is abundantly clear that straight White males are discriminated against in recruitment and advancement at Harvard.”

“That is also apparently true to a somewhat lesser extent for men who are Asians or of Indian origin,” he continued, blaming the university’s DEI office. 

Riley called this reliance on DEI criteria the “worst-kept secret in academia.” He argued that Harvard was now reaping the consequences of these racial policies.

“Harvard’s dilemma illustrates a broader practical problem with racial-preference policies. Once you lower standards for hiring administrators or admitting students, you are forced to lower standards for evaluating their conduct and performance. For purposes of window dressing, people who have no business running elite institutions such as Harvard have been put in charge of people who have no business teaching or matriculating there,” he wrote. 

“What could go wrong?”

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Harvard did not return a request for comment.

Fox News’ Brian Flood and David Rutz contributed to this report.



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