A former student of the London School of Economics donated nearly $500,000 to the school’s Global Governance to support academic research. However, the school is reluctant to accept it due to two controversial issues surrounding the donor. First, the former student is being accused of plagiarism in his 2007 doctoral thesis. Second, he is the son of Libyan leader Muammar el-Qaddafi.
Seif al-Islam el Qaddafi earned both his master’s degree and Ph. D. from the London School of Economics. His doctoral thesis was entitled “Role of Civil Society in the Democratization of Global Governance of Institutions.” The professors to whom he submitted his thesis do not recall anything that may have indicated that he was guilty of plagiarism at the time he handed in the paper. In fact, they recall having him rewrite it after calling it too idealistic.
There is no reason given for the allegation of plagiarism. Further, as Sachin Patel, editor of the school paper explained, plagiarism investigations require the informed consent of the student so it is unlikely that he will consent as, “that may not be his first priority right now.”
The accusation may have arisen due to the pledge Qaddafi made in January to donate 2.45 million dollars to the school, specifically the Global Governance Department, to create a research program to focus on politics, government, and society in Northern Africa. It is from this pledge that the recent $488,000 was obtained by the school.
The student body has been vehemently opposed to accepting the money from the Libyan leader’s son. Opposition from the students has included protests in the cafeteria and in front of the director’s office. They want their opinion to be clear – they do not want to have an association with the Libyan government, particularly at this time. Professors at the school likewise do not wish for the school to be associated with the donor and feel that accepting this donation has backfired.
Should the London School of Economics accept this money? Should they dedicate it for what el-Qaddafi requested or limit it to scholarships for Libyan students? Is the school’s concern with being connected to the son of the Libyan leader, a former student, justified? Do you think the allegations of plagiarism are legitimate?