Plagiarism, Schlagerism. What does it matter so long as you stand by the integrity of your scholarship? That’s Claudine Gay’s position, and she earns almost nine hundred grand a year at Harvard University even though she stepped down as Harvard’s president after being accused of plagiarizing parts of her Harvard dissertation.
And perhaps that’s Sherri Charleston’s position as well. Dr. Charleston, Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer at Harvard, has recently been accused of plagiarizing parts of her 2009 dissertation and a 2014 scholarly article published in the Journal of Negro Education. Gay and Charleton are both African American women, and both saw their careers blossom as American universities embraced Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI).
What do these two scandals tell us about DEI in higher education? First, DEI is an industry that has nothing to do with scholarship. DEI administrators are political officers, not academics. Harvard did not place Gay and Charleston in elevated positions because they have records of outstanding scholarship; they got their jobs because they had the credentials that would help Harvard advance its DEI agenda.
Second, DEI is a career path that is only open to racial minorities. If you scan the higher education landscape, you will find that the universities have hundreds of DEI administrators. I’ll buy you lunch at the Stockyard restaurant in North Baton Rouge if you can identify even one heterosexual white male in a DEI position.
Finally, the proliferation of DEI administrators has not promoted racial harmony on American college campuses. On the contrary, our nation has seen a shocking outbreak of antisemitism on university campuses in recent months—shocking enough to prompt Congress to hold hearings on the phenomenon. On the whole, the DEI commissars are indifferent to racism against Jews, as evidenced by Claudine Gay’s remarkably nuanced and legalistic response when she was asked whether calls for "genocide of Jews" violated Harvard’s policies on bullying and harassment.
In the coming months, we will see more scandals erupt as critics scan the academic credentials of university DEI officers. These scandals will show that the colleges don’t give a damn about their DEI apparatchiks' scholarly records. Sherri Charleston, for example, has been accused of plagiarizing passages in her dissertation from a book written by Professor Rebecca J. Scott, who co-chaired Charleston’s dissertation committee. Presumably, Professor Scott read Charleston’s dissertation drafts. It's odd, don’t you think, that Scott apparently didn’t realize that part of what she was reading came from her own book!