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House Committee Extends Harvard’s Deadline to Provide Documents About Gay’s Plagiarism Scandal

The House Committee on Education and the Workforce extended the Friday deadline it gave the University to provide documents for a congressional investigation into the plagiarism allegations against Harvard President Claudine Gay.
The House Committee on Education and the Workforce extended the Friday deadline it gave the University to provide documents for a congressional investigation into the plagiarism allegations against Harvard President Claudine Gay. By Julian J. Giordano
By Cam E. Kettles, Crimson Staff Writer

The House Committee on Education and the Workforce extended the Friday deadline it gave Harvard to provide documents related to its congressional investigation into plagiarism allegations against University President Claudine Gay.

A committee spokesperson said Friday that Harvard was granted the extension because the University is currently closed for the holidays. A Harvard spokesperson was not available for comment.

“Given the holidays and office closures, we are working with Harvard on a prompt production of documents that takes that into account,” a committee spokesperson wrote in a statement to The Crimson.

The committee widened the scope of its initial investigation into antisemitism at Harvard to also probe allegations of plagiarism against Gay, committee chairwoman Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) announced earlier this month.

In a Dec. 20 letter addressed to Penny S. Pritzker ’81, senior fellow of the Harvard Corporation — the University’s highest governing body — Foxx gave Harvard until Friday to produce “all documents and communications” about the initial allegations of plagiarism against Gay and the independent review into her scholarly work.

Foxx wrote in her letter that the committee was concerned about Harvard’s alleged lack of consistency in applying disciplinary actions.

“If a university is willing to look the other way and not hold faculty accountable for engaging in academically dishonest behavior, it cheapens its mission and the value of its education,” Foxx wrote.

The initial request for information included all disciplinary actions taken against Harvard faculty or students for any “academic integrity violation,” including plagiarism and inadequate citation in the last five years. It also suggests that the University’s eligibility for federal funding could be in jeopardy if its response to the allegations of plagiarism is found to be inadequate.

It is unclear whether the University will be able to provide the committee with all of the requested documents and communications due to privacy considerations surrounding individual disciplinary cases.

The committee’s unusual decision to probe a private university’s handling of plagiarism allegations against its president was viewed by many as an effort to put additional pressure on Gay, Harvard’s embattled leader.

The plagiarism allegations, along with the other scandals Gay has weathered over the past three months, placed her presidency in serious peril as the Corporation deliberated her future at the helm of the University before deciding to issue a statement in support.

In response to the plagiarism allegations, Gay said she would request three corrections to her dissertation and four corrections to two additional articles.

The University also came under fire for its response to the plagiarism allegations after a law firm retained by Harvard threatened to sue the New York Post if they published the claims. Harvard later opened an independent investigation that found multiple instances of improper citation, though the review concluded the errors did not amount to research misconduct.

The committee announced its original investigation on Dec. 7, just days after Gay’s controversial congressional testimony before the committee in a hearing about antisemitism on college campuses. Gay was widely condemned for her answer to a question by Rep. Elise M. Stefanik ’06 (R-N.Y.) about whether calls for the genocide of Jews violate University policies.

While the investigation’s original announcement indicated Harvard would be asked to provide documents about antisemitism on campus, the committee has only publicly released a formal letter to the University requesting documents about the integrity of Gay’s scholarship.

In an interview with The Crimson on Dec. 7, Gay said the University would comply with the congressional investigation.

“Once we receive official notice, we will comply with whatever information is called for,” Gay said at the time.

—Staff writer Cam E. Kettles can be reached at cam.kettles@thecrimson.com. Follow her on X @cam_kettles or on Threads @camkettles.

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