She gave it a college try.
A side-by-side video outed a Duke University commencement speaker for seemingly plagiarizing a Harvard University commencement speech.
Priya Parkash’s graduation speech for Duke was eerily similar to Sarah Abushaar’s 2014 Harvard address, which eagle-eyed viewers pointed out in the now-viral comparison clip.
Michael Schoenfeld, Duke University’s vice president of public affairs and government relations, told the Duke Chronicle that the college is “aware of and concerned about these allegations” and an investigation into the “facts of the situation” is underway.
“Duke expects all students to abide by their commitment to the Duke Community Standard in everything they do as students,” he said.
Duke’s own golden rule states students will not “lie, cheat or steal in [their] academic endeavors” and that they will conduct themselves “honorably.”
In the speech, Parkash called Duke University its “own tiny island nation,” while Abushaar said Harvard could be “its own country” if it “shut its gates.”
Parkash also said the university is “home to several consulates,” which she refers to the various clubs on campus. In Abushaar’s speech, she compared Harvard’s clubs to “embassies.”
The Duke Chronicle also reported that as of Tuesday, the university removed the transcript of the commencement address from the Duke Today website and the video of Parkash’s speech from their YouTube channel.
The same day, Parkash released a statement to the Duke Chronicle via Dave Quast, the senior vice president of the crisis public relations firm Red Banyan.
“When I was asked to give the commencement speech, I was thrilled by such an honor, and I sought advice from respected friends and family about topics I might address,” the statement read. “I was embarrassed and confused to find out too late that some of the suggested passages were taken from a recent commencement speech at another university.”
“I take full responsibility for this oversight, and I regret if this incident has in any way distracted from the accomplishments of the Duke Class of 2022,” she continued.
She also gave a statement to the Harvard Crimson on Tuesday, repeating that she was “embarrassed” and “confused” by the incident. The situation prompted a response from Abushaar, who hopes it can be a learning opportunity for Parkash.
“The goal of my address was to inspire young people, and especially young women, from all backgrounds to break barriers in striving for their aims and to have the courage to use their voices to share their stories and serve the forces of good,” Abushaar said. “I hope that this incident was a serious error in judgment and that the student can take this opportunity to learn and grow from it.”
While Parkash claimed she was “asked” to give a speech, the process of choosing an commencement speaker actually began as a call for applicants, according to the Duke Chronicle. Interested seniors submitted a “brief speech outline of around 250 words,” followed by a selection committee picking finalists who needed to “deliver draft speeches.”