Goodwin Sets Poor Example for Students

To the editors:

The Crimson is correct in calling for the resignation of Doris Kearns Goodwin from Harvard’s Board of Overseers. (Editorial, “The Consequences of Plagiarism,” March 11). Should Goodwin herself not step down, the University must request her resignation.

It seems clear that Goodwin did not intentionally use others’ work, and she has publicly accepted responsibility for her actions in a manner that other popular historians in similar situations might do well to emulate. Perhaps hers is simply a case of sloppy scholarship gone out of control. Nevertheless, Goodwin has committed the gravest of academic errors, and therefore cannot continue in her role as leader and overseer of this academic institution.

As a teaching fellow in History, how can I teach students about the importance of attribution and original scholarship, when the institution behind us all tolerates plagiarism at the highest level? Allowing Goodwin to remain as Overseer of an academic institution is tantamount to condoning such behavior. Worse, it promotes a double standard, suggesting that indiscretions diminish in importance as one’s fame and popularity grow. For the integrity of Harvard, Goodwin must go.

Lisa L. Laskin

March 11, 2002

The writer is head teaching fellow of Historical Studies B-42 “The American Civil War.