Tag: Harvard University

Harvard’s Asian Exclusion

 

It is with decidedly mixed emotions that I wade into a discussion of the high-profile case of Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard, in which a large cohort of Asian American students has joined forces to challenge Harvard’s admissions process on the grounds that it discriminates against them.

The source of my mixed emotions lies in a simple dichotomy. As a matter of first principle, I think that Harvard University (and all the other preeminent universities that have leapt to its defense) should have the absolute right to determine the students whom they admit and the grounds on which they admit them. By the same token, Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 provides explicitly to the contrary: “No person in the United States shall, on the ground of race, color, or national origin, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”

Start with the matter of principle. My defense of Harvard does not rest on any necessary affection for diversity. Rather, it starts from the simple premise that Harvard is not a common carrier or a public utility. Like every other private university, it should be entitled to run its own establishment as it sees fit, given that it operates in a competitive market. My purpose is to defend Harvard on this unfashionable ground, while repudiating the grounds on which it chooses to defend itself. Harvard and its supporters at peer universities “speak with one voice to emphasize the profound importance of a diverse student body for their educational institutions.” Sadly, it is quite worrisome that these leading universities entertain no diversity of opinion among themselves on the role of diversity in academic institutions. In practice, they care only about diversity of race and ethnic origin and show little or no interest in intellectual or political diversity.

The Mess at Harvard

 

First, the Institute of Politics at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government invites a former intelligence officer for the US army who was convicted of espionage and sentenced to prison for thirty-five years to become a Fellow of the Institute. The man’s qualification? He thinks that he is a she, demands that we accommodate his delusion, and treats our unwillingness to do so as a justification for his misconduct.

Then, after an outbreak of criticism, the resignation from the Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs of a former acting director of the CIA, and a scathing letter from the current director, Douglas W. Elmendorf, the hapless dean of the Kennedy School, rescinds the invitation and issues a statement denying what everyone knows — that the school honors someone when it invites that someone to become a Visiting Fellow of its Institute of Politics.

Chelsea Manning to Teach at Harvard

 

Here is a piece of news that will warm the cockles of your heart. Chelsea Manning, as Bradley Manning now calls himself, will soon be lecturing at the Institute of Politics in the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. His qualification? In 2013, after leaking to Wikileaks something like three-quarters of a million classified State Department and military cables, Manning was convicted of espionage in army court-martial proceedings and sentenced to 35 years in prison; and in January 2017, Barack Obama commuted the sentence.

What an opportunity for Harvard students!

Harvard’s Assault on Freedom of Association

 

Whether you follow the work of my organization, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) or not, you may be aware of the ongoing dispute over Harvard University’s single-gender social organizations (e.g., the “Final Clubs”), which the university has been trying to drive to extinction through increasingly unsubtle means.

Last May, Harvard announced that members of these social organizations would be ineligible for recommendation for prestigious scholarships, chief among them the Rhodes and Marshall scholarships, and also be ineligible for leadership positions in student organizations. It’s been a dark comedy of errors ever since. Perhaps sensing the backlash to come from the recommendations of the policy’s implementation committee, which recommended making the policy even harsher, Harvard College Dean Rakesh Khurana announced the formation of a new review committee in January 2017. But Khurana then turned right around and said he would accept “nearly all” of the implementation committee’s draconian recommendations, and then appointed himself the head of the new review committee.

But even that obvious charade didn’t prepare us for the singular awfulness of the new committee’s recommendations, which aim to “phase out” single-gender social organizations entirely by 2022. Worse, they target not only single-gender organizations, but any social organizations whose membership criteria are in any way exclusionary. And students would be punished for running afoul of the new policy: