Alejandro Zaera-Polo , Dean at Princeton University’s School of Architecture was ‘demanded’ a resignation by Princeton University President Christopher Eisgruber  over events that took place during the 2014 Venice Biennale , states a recently leaked New Jersey Court document. Zaera-Polo produced texts for the exhibition ‘Elements of Architecture’ that was curated by Rem Koolhaas. He is guilty of not citing the texts, as allegedly accused by a group of Princeton students.

It is now apparent that Zaera-Polo was not completely aware of the Princeton University’s academic code of conduct. However, he did not agree that his texts violate this code; regardless he resigned. Princeton’s motivation to demand resignation was strongly influenced by his unawareness about the University’s policies about plagiarism. While this may hold truth, Alejandro Zaera-Polo does not agree that the Princeton code applies to his work; the text was non-academic, and was only “polemic”.

Rem Koolhaas had defended Alejandro Zaera-Polo in an email to President Eisgruber three days before his resignation on grounds that from the beginning itself the text was meant to be non-academic in order to reach a wider audience. The conflict thus, does not centre on the fact that plagiarism was committed, but around what texts should Princeton’s code of conduct be applicable to.

Polo has taken this step since according to him the actions taken by Princeton before as well as after his resignation have had a negative effect on his reputation. The University has been challenged on four charges- “breach of contract,” “breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing,” “tortious interference with contract and prospective economic advantage,” and “trade libel.”

By: Sahiba Gulati

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