Breaking Campus News. Launching Media Careers.
Conservative college professor investigated for racism after accusing black student of plagiarism

‘While this hard bigotry of no expectations harms the students the administration professes to help, it does supply yet another instrument for the president to intimidate an already debased and frightened faculty,’ one professor said

A Claremont McKenna College professor was dragged through a yearlong investigation over racism allegations — and ultimately cleared — after he accused a black student of plagiarism, according to a recently published report.

Professor William Ascher, a distinguished scholar whose CV notes he has worked as a professor of government and economics at the conservative college for nearly 25 years and also previously served as dean of faculty, faced the probe after he reported the student to the school’s Academic Standards Committee.

The investigation, which launched in January 2023, was brought to light in a May 10 article in the Claremont Independent student news outlet, which linked to a five-page account of the case penned by Ascher in December 2023 at the conclusion of the ordeal.

Ascher and Claremont McKenna College’s media relations division did not comment to The College Fix.

According to the Independent and Ascher’s account, the student’s essay — which was apparently far superior to previous ones — failed both a TurnItIn plagiarism detection test as well as a review by a visiting literature professor.

Faculty are required to report plagiarism suspicions by the college’s academic policy, the Independent reported. After the incident was filed with the Academic Standards Committee, the student and three of his peers accused Ascher of racism for various alleged past racist and derogatory classroom comments.

Administrators at Claremont McKenna, which is known as employing conservative-leaning faculty, pulled the plagiarism accusation from consideration during the probe into Ascher. The administration then asked Ascher to compromise regarding the plagiarism accusation, but the veteran scholar wrote in his account that he refused. He had also reported a white student for plagiarism the same semester.

Campus leaders then hired a private law firm to conduct a months-long investigation into the “racism” allegations, of which Ascher was eventually cleared at the end of 2023.

“I was puzzled as to why so many students would come forward with contrived complaints, two of which are outright lies, and I learned from the investigator’s report that their formal complaints, coming a year after the alleged offenses, [came] after the student accused of plagiarism filed his complaint,” Ascher wrote.

“It seems likely that he violated the confidentiality requirement by soliciting more complaints. I cannot help concluding that this has been a concerted effort to prevent having the student charged with plagiarism, failing both courses, and facing a strong likelihood of being suspended (not only for the plagiarism, but also for lying about when papers were submitted).”

“Then I learned that the plagiarist has a high position of the 2023-24 senior class.”

A Claremont McKenna professor — not Ascher — who asked to remain anonymous told The College Fix the investigation into Ascher was unprecedented, and that the student at the center of the plagiarism investigation held a very high position in the student government, which is why administrators likely sought to protect him.

“I know of no other case where any member of the administration intervened to stop a plagiarism investigation, much less a non-academic member of the staff,” the professor told The Fix.

The professor added the administration’s decision to hire an outside law firm to conduct an investigation into Ascher is not authorized by the faculty handbook.

“By allowing a student to use Title IX to retaliate for or protect against charges of plagiarism, President [Hiram] Chodosh has destroyed the value of the degrees it grants to its non-white students. While this hard bigotry of no expectations harms the students the administration professes to help, it does supply yet another instrument for the president to intimidate an already debased and frightened faculty,” the professor told The Fix via email.

Ryan Ansloan with the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression told the Independent the case will also have a chilling effect on scholars, citing the length of the investigation and the fact that campus leaders abandoned normal procedures.

MORE: Angry mob shuts down Blue Lives Matter speech at Claremont McKenna College

Like The College Fix on Facebook / Follow us on Twitter

Please join the conversation about our stories on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Reddit, MeWe, Rumble, Gab, Minds and Gettr.

About the Author
College Fix contributor David Glasser is a rising second-year student at the Florida State University College of Law, with over six years of news and opinion writing experience for various publications. He is set to graduate in 2026.