"It can be, depending on the context."
Those seven words could be the undoing of Harvard University President Claudine Gay.
They were uttered in response to a question on whether calling for the "genocide of Jews" was against their universities' codes of conduct.
She has since apologized for her comments in an interview with the Harvard Crimson.
But, the pressure continues to mount as billionaire investor Bill Ackman has her in his crosshairs demanding Gay (and others) "resign in disgrace." A demand that is gathering momentum after Penn's President resigned on Saturday.
On Sunday, Ackman penned an open letter to Harvard's governing boards of directors, where he reiterated his call for Claudine Gay to be removed.
"In her short tenure as President, Claudine Gay has done more damage to the reputation of Harvard University than any individual in our nearly 500-year history," the Harvard alumnus wrote on X, adding that Gay had "catalyzed an explosion of antisemitism and hate on campus that is unprecedented in Harvard's history."
Besides focusing on Gay's handling of on-campus antisemitism, Ackman's letter also accused her of presiding over "discriminatory hiring practices at Harvard."
"The faculty have been told in no uncertain terms that candidates that do not meet DEI criteria will not be considered for certain faculty positions," he wrote.
"Knowing what we know now, would Harvard consider Claudine Gay for the position? The answer is definitively 'No,'" Ackman said in his X post.
"With this simple thought experiment, the board's decision on President Gay could not be more straightforward," Ackman continued.
Please see my letter today to @Harvard governing boards of directors:— Bill Ackman (@BillAckman) December 10, 2023
December 10, 2023
Dear Members of the Harvard Governing Boards:
In her short tenure as President, Claudine Gay has done more damage to the reputation of Harvard University than any individual in our nearly…
But, things just got even stickier for Gay, as she appears to have plagiarized sections of Ph.D. dissertation, according to research published Sunday evening by Christopher Rufo.
“First, Gay lifts an entire paragraph nearly verbatim from Lawrence Bobo and Franklin Gilliam’s paper, ‘Race, Sociopolitical Participation, and Black Empowerment,’ while passing it off as her own paraphrase and language,” Rufo reported on his Substack along with journalist Christopher Brunet.
“Though Gay does provide a reference to the original authors, she uses their verbatim language, with a few trivial synonym substitutions, without providing quotation marks,” he reported.
“…Gay repeats this violation throughout the document, again using work from Bobo and Gilliam, as well as passages from Richard Shingles, Susan Howell, and Deborah Fagan, which she reproduces nearly verbatim, without quotation marks.”
Rufo posted screenshots of the comparisons on his X account, arguing the examples are violations of Harvard’s academic integrity policy.
Gay repeats this violation of Harvard's policy throughout the document, again using work from Bobo and Gilliam, as well as passages from Richard Shingles, Susan Howell, and Deborah Fagan, which she reproduces nearly verbatim, without quotation marks. pic.twitter.com/K75YPeZwky— Christopher F. Rufo ⚔️ (@realchrisrufo) December 10, 2023
Rufo concludes his post by calling on Harvard’s Board of Overseers to conduct an investigation, arguing “the dissertation is the cornerstone of an academic career, and universities impose demanding standards of academic integrity, with severe consequences for violators.”
Finally, we note that more than 500 faculty members signed a letter to the Harvard Corporation, urging the university's governing body not to remove Gay, the Harvard Crimson reported on Sunday.
In the letter, the faculty members urged the university "to defend the independence of the university and to resist political pressures that are at odds with Harvard's commitment to academic freedom, including calls for the removal of President Claudine Gay."
"The critical work of defending a culture of free inquiry in our diverse community cannot proceed if we let its shape be dictated by outside forces," they continued.
We wonder how all those supporters will feel about the plagiarism allegations?