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Watchdog files accreditation complaint against Harvard over plagiarism scandal

A higher education watchdog group has filed a complaint with the organization that accredits Harvard University over campus leaders’ probe into plagiarism accusations against former President Claudine Gay.

The American Council of Trustees and Alumni filed a 12-page complaint with the New England Commission of Higher Education that calls on the group to launch a probe into “Harvard’s apparent violation of its own established procedures in the investigation of the alleged plagiarism committed by Dr. Gay,” ACTA stated in a Jan. 12 news release.

The complaint argues the Ivy League institution did not follow its own procedures when it came to investigating and attempting to clear Gay of the plagiarism allegations that ultimately prompted her resignation earlier this month.

The council, in its Jan. 11 complaint to the accreditation agency, states “the apparent mishandling of these matters by the Harvard Corporation remains to be addressed. (Nor do these matters go away as Dr. Gay transitions back to a faculty position after resigning from the presidency).”

The complaint flags the Harvard Corporation’s apparent attempt to silence media reports early on about the allegations by siccing high-powered defamation attorneys against the New York Post — as well as threatening the tipsters who found and flagged the plagiarism examples — to quash a story on the topic.

ACTA argues the probe into the allegations was rushed, incomplete, inadequate and complicit in attempting to absolve then cover up Gay’s actions.

The university’s own policies state complainants must not be subject to retaliation for raising concerns, and the investigation did not address several accusations lodged against Gay, ACTA argues.

The council seeks an investigation “into Harvard University’s current capacity and willingness to adjudicate allegations of academic dishonesty and research misconduct equitably and forthrightly”; the accreditation agency “must determine whether Harvard has the policies, procedures, and norms in place to ensure compliance” with the agency’s standards.

The New York Post reported “Harvard’s compliance with NECHE’s standards is necessary for continued eligibility to receive funding under federal student loan programs” under a headline: “Watchdog demands probe into Harvard that could put hundreds of millions of fed funding in jeopardy.”

MORE: Group preps to sue MIT, alleges it rejects male applicants for less-qualified female ones

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About the Author
Fix Editor
Jennifer Kabbany is editor-in-chief of The College Fix.