NY Times columnist calls for Harvard’s Gay to go: Is it ‘racist to expect the best from Black people?’

Calls are growing for Harvard to dismiss President Claudine Gay or for her to resign as allegations of plagiarism continue to plague the elite university leader.

Gay, who recently made headlines for refusing to say whether calling for genocide of Jews was against Harvard policy during a congressional hearing, was accused this month of plagiarizing several of her past academic writings.

On Tuesday, Harvard received a new complaint detailing “dozens of additional cases in which Gay quoted or paraphrased authors without proper attribution,” the Washington Free Beacon first reported.

In the New York Times on Thursday, Columbia University professor John McWhorter said the scandal had reached its “tipping point” and it was time for Gay to step down.


New York Times columnist and Columbia professor John McWhorter called for Harvard to dismiss President Claudine Gay after she faced more plagiarism allegations. (Getty Images)

If she stayed, Gay would be tarnishing the elite school’s reputation as well as showing that it held a “double standard” for Black academics, the Times columnist argued.

“As a matter of scholarly ethics, academic honor and, perhaps most of all, leadership that sets an example for students, Dr. Gay would be denigrating the values of ‘veritas’ that she and Harvard aspire to uphold. Staying on would not only be a terrible sign of hollowed-out leadership, but also risks conveying the impression of a double standard at a progressive institution for a Black woman, which serves no one well, least of all Dr. Gay,” McWhorter wrote.

He called the plagiarism accusations a new “challenge” on top of Gay’s already “thin dossier” of academic writings. Students at the elite university who are accused of doing “even a fraction of what Dr. Gay has done” face “grave consequences,” he pointed out. 

“That Dr. Gay is Black gives this an especially bad look. If she stays in her job,” McWhorter argued. 


Gay Magill Kornbluth

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 institution’s policies on bullying and harassment. (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

“The optics will be that a middling publication record and chronically lackadaisical attention to crediting sources is somehow OK for a university president if she is Black. This implication will be based on a fact sad but impossible to ignore: that it is difficult to identify a White university president with a similar background. Are we to let pass a tacit idea that for Black scholars and administrators, the symbolism of our Blackness, our ‘diverseness,’ is what matters most about us? I am unclear where the Black pride (or antiracism) is in this,” he asked.

McWhorter defended his call for Gay to step down in a series of posts on X.

“[I ]am neither part of a ‘mob’ nor being disloyal to my race: I am supporting it,” the Black author and professor wrote. 

However, he predicted Harvard wouldn’t dismiss the university leader for fear of being labeled as racist. He admonished Gay to “do the right thing” and step down on her own accord.

“But – Harvard won’t dismiss her, out of fear of being called racist (and, I suspect, out of a quiet sense that it’s racist to expect the best from black people …?). Prof. Gay should do the right thing for Harvard, herself, and black America and step down,” he wrote.

Harvard has stood by the embattled president amid the controversy. The school’s top governing board released a statement in support of Gay on December 12, before the latest plagiarism allegations were revealed.

McWhorter isn’t the only academic calling for the Harvard President to go.

Swain Gay split

Scholar Carol Swain says Harvard President Claudine Gay plagiarized her work.  (Harvard/Fox News)

Dr. Carol Swain, a retired Vanderbilt University professor whose work was allegedly plagiarized by Gay, called for her immediate firing on Thursday to “steer the university back towards sanity.”

Wall Street Journal columnist Jason Riley has also called for Gay’s ouster in an opinion piece this week. Like McWhorter, he acknowledged the university could be accused of racism for letting Gay go, but argued that by staying they risked revealing how their Diversity, Equity and Inclusion hiring criteria “lowers standards.”


Harvard did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Fox News Digital.

Fox News’ Brian Flood, David Rutz and Sarah Rumpf-Whitten contributed to this report.

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