U.Va. Gives Mixed Messages on Revoking Degree of Cheating DEI Grad

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(Ben Sellers, Headline USA) After news broke of a major plagiarism incident that threatened to undermine the University of Virginia’s once vaunted Honor Code, school representatives offered mixed messages to media outlets as to whether they intended to pursue the matter, including the possible revocation of a doctoral degree.

In a bombshell report published Monday by the Daily Wire, investigative journalists Chris Rufo and Luke Rosiak revealed that Natalie J. Perry—a top official for diversity, equity and inclusion at the University of California, Los Angeles medical school—had plagiarized significant portions of her 2014 doctoral dissertation while attending U.Va.

“An analysis of the paper found it ridden with the worst sort of plagiarism, reproducing large swaths of text directly from several other authors, without citations,” they wrote. “The scale of the plagiarism suggests that Perry lacks both ethics and competence and raises questions about academic programs that push DEI.”

According to U.Va.’s Jefferson Council, a conservative alumni group, university spokesman Brian Coy issued a statement saying that the school was investigating the matter and was seriously considering the possibility of revoking Perry’s Ph.D.

“The University takes concerns about research integrity seriously. We are aware of these allegations from 2014 and we are initiating an investigation according to our process,” Coy said. “While federal student privacy laws prohibit us from commenting on any specific case, the University does have the ability to revoke degrees in cases where plagiarism or other qualifying forms of misconduct are identified and proven.”

However, a separate email received by Headline USA revealed that any action was not coming directly from the school’s student-run honor council, which claimed it only had purview over offenses that had happened since 2022.

“Unfortunately, this case does not fall within Honor’s statute of limitations, as reports must be filed within two years of the alleged Act,” said second-year student Seamus Oliver (he/him), the Honor Council’s vice chair for investigations. “We are not able to accept this report.”

The school first implemented its honor pledge in 1842, 17 years after its founding by former President Thomas Jefferson.

For 181 years, it was a sacred part of the school’s tradition, putting U.Va. on a distinctive continuum that separated it from schools of a lower pedigree and made it a beacon for others to follow. Violations of moral turpitude for offenses of lying, cheating and stealing faced a single sanction: expulsion.

However, critics in the modern era complained that it was a “nightmare for due process.”

Under the stewardship of school president Jim Ryan, a woke acolyte of Barack Obama, the school formally dispatched with its single-sanction honor-code last year and replaced it with a watered-down nominal version that effectively mirrored the current two-tiered justice system.

“Our concern is that it has changed way too much, and it’s collapsing and becoming meaningless,” said Jefferson Council Executive Director James A. Bacon, according to the Charlottesville Daily Progress.

As the case of Ms. Perry showed, however, it may have become meaningless in practice long before that change was formally codified, as programs like DEI dominated the school’s dogma and directly conflicted with the racist demand that students abstain from lying, cheating and stealing at penalty of exile.

U.Va.’s latest fall from grace follows the high-profile resignation of Harvard University president Claudine Gay over revelations of plagiarism that also were first reported by Rufo.

Ryan, the current U.Va. president, previously served as dean of Harvard’s education school and touted his plans to turn the remake the school in Harvard’s image when he took over in 2018 as it reeled from the shock of the previous year’s riot.

Ironically, the anti-Semitism that was widely condemned when “white supremacist” protesters marched up the steps of the school’s iconic Rotunda chanting “Jews will not replace us” has been embraced by the Left and is now vigorously defended on college campuses including Harvard and Columbia University in the context of pro-Palestinian riots.

U.Va. faced criticism also, less than a week after Hamas’s Oct. 7 massacre in Israel, when a professor reportedly offered extra credit for students to attend an anti-Israel rally, triggering an investigation from state Attorney General Jason Miyares.

EDITOR’S NOTE: In the interest of full disclosure, I was personally involved in this case, reaching out both to the U.Va. Honor Council and to the staff of the school’s Jeffersonian newspaper after the story broke in the Daily Wire. I identified myself both as a journalist and a concerned alumnus.

Ben Sellers is the editor of Headline USA. Follow him at twitter.com/realbensellers.

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