In an e-mail to undergraduate students and the Harvard community, University President Drew Faust announced that beginning with next year’s entering class, undergraduate members of unrecognized single-gender social organizations will be banned from holding athletic team captaincies and leadership positions in all recognized student groups. They will also be ineligible for College endorsement for top fellowships like the Rhodes and Marshall scholarships.
The unrecognized single-gender social organizations are what is left of the old fraternities and sororities. When the Greek system was banned many decades ago (and Harvard was an all-male college), the frats reorganized as exclusive college clubs located in houses around Harvard Square in Cambridge. After Harvard merged with all-female neighbor Radcliffe College in the Seventies, sorority-like clubs emulated their male counterparts. In 1984, Harvard issued an ultimatum to the clubs to go co-ed, and the clubs responded by disaffiliating with the University.
“Although the fraternities, sororities, and final clubs are not formally recognized by the College, they play an unmistakable and growing role in student life, in many cases enacting forms of privilege and exclusion at odds with our deepest values. The College cannot ignore these organizations if it is to advance our shared commitment to broadening opportunity and making Harvard a campus for all of its students….Captains of intercollegiate sports teams and leaders of organizations funded, sponsored, or recognized by Harvard College in a very real sense represent the College.They benefit from its resources. They operate under its name. Especially as it seeks to break down structural barriers to an effectively inclusive campus, the College is right to ensure that the areas in which it provides resources and endorsement advance and reinforce its values of non-discrimination.”
Faust was following the recommendation of Dean of the College Rakesh Khurana’s recommendations, who wrote in his report on the results of a “study”,
“[T]he discriminatory membership policies of these organizations have led to the perpetuation of spaces that are rife with power imbalances. The most entrenched of these spaces send an unambiguous message that they are the exclusive preserves of men. In their recruitment practices and through their extensive resources and access to networks of power, these organizations propagate exclusionary values that undermine those of the larger Harvard College community…Ultimately, all of these unrecognized single-gender social organizations are at odds with Harvard College’s educational philosophy and its commitment to a diverse living and learning experience.”
Let us be clear what Harvard is trying to do here. It is seeking to punish students for their associations and activities unrelated to the school itself, and using its power within the limits of the campus to indoctrinate ideological values and require conduct that is unrelated to education. This is a rejection of the principle of freedom of association, one of those enumerated rights protected by the Ninth Amendment of the Bill of Rights, and a cornerstone of American principles. If the college can, in effect, create a blacklist withholding institutional honors from those who choose to belong to an all male or all female club completely distinct from the university, what clearly delineated line prevents the same institution from declaring that membership in the Republican Party, Occupy Wall Street, Americans For Trump or the NAACP are similarly undermining its values?
There is no such line.
As an aside, let me note that when I was an undergraduate, the silver-spoon types who withdrew into these archaic enclaves were widely mocked and disparaged for doing so, and I doubt that they are any less so now. I know I was delighted that they chose to hang out together and as far away from me as possible: these were the models for the snotty fraternity members who ostracized Flounder, Otter and Bluto in “Animal House.” (“Thank you sir, may I have another?”) No, I would not have chosen to join such a club (actually, you had to be invited) under any circumstances short of insanity. Nonetheless, a student who chooses to do so and continues to meet his or her obligations on campus should not be penalized in any way. Harvard may not tell a student who to live with, play with, drink with or party with.
I have a hard time fathoming how Faust and Khurana came to think this was any of their business at all, but since they did, they have obviously lost all sense of perspective and respect for autonomy and individual rights. Like so much percolating up from the Obama-tainted progressive culture, this is nascent totalitarianism, and has to be opposed and stopped in its tracks.
Faust and Khurana should be dismissed. Ironic, isn’t it? We just saw an all-women’s college survive an effort to shut it down, and here is a female president of the U.S.’s most prestigious institution declaring that that such an institution is a blight on the culture. So tell me, Sweet Briar alums: what do you think of the Harvard edict?
Fortunately, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) is on the case, and is preparing a formal response.
“Outrageously, Harvard has decided that 2016 is the right time to revive the blacklist,” said Robert Shibley, FIRE’s executive director. “This year’s undesirables are members of off-campus clubs that don’t match Harvard’s political preferences. In the 1950s, perhaps Communists would have been excluded. I had hoped that universities were past the point of asking people, ‘Are you now, or have you ever been, a member of a group we don’t like?’ Sadly, they are not.
FIRE co-founder, civil liberties attorney, and Harvard Law alumnus Harvey Silverglate added,
“Harvard’s decision simply demonstrates that it is willing to sacrifice students’ basic freedom of association to the whims of whoever occupies the administrative suites today. Who’s to say that Harvard’s leaders five years from now won’t decide that Catholics or Republicans should be blacklisted because they might not line up with Harvard’s preferred values?”
I hadn’t seen Silverglate’s quote before I wrote my similar observation above. It isn’t because great minds think alike, but because this is screamingly obvious, except to the ideologically blinded or totalitarian social justice warriors, who don’t care about the slippery slope. They know best, after all.
You can join FIRE in the fight here.
I highly recommend it. The group has an excellent record of prevailing as well as thoroughly embarrassing the institutions it takes on, making Harvard back down, even for the rights of Niedermeyer and Marmelard, will be a major victory against political correctness dictatorship.
31 thoughts on “Dear Harvard: Fire President Drew Faust And Dean Rakesh Khurana”
“They know best, after all.”
Only a tertiary connection to the topic, I know, but I just got done listening to Obama’s Howard Univ. speech. While there is no doubt that he is a captivating orator, one thing kept striking me. The repeated refrain to the students, that they needed to “listen” to those that they disagree with, and not try to have speakers who think differently from you banned from campus, b/c, as his grandmother used to say “Don’t do that…Every time fool speaks they are just advertising their own ignorance. Let them talk.”
He is speaking to predominantly black audience, in Washington D.C.; in other words, he is speaking to a overwhelmingly liberal audience. And he is, not essentially, but very clearly saying that those who disagree with you are fools and are ignorant. He also said, repeatedly, that compromise with those that you disagree with was important because otherwise you wont get done what you want to have done.
But at NO point, was there any talk of “listen to, and compromise with, people that you disagree with because maybe, just maybe, they may have points that you have not considered. Maybe, just maybe, they may actually be right.” No, it was: “you, by virtue of being part of the groups you are part of, and thinking the way that you do, are always on the side of being right, but that matters none if you cannot compromise with, and tolerate, the obstructionists. You are compromising, not b/c your opponents may have valid points, but rather b/c you can’t let perfect be the enemy of good….and everything you think is perfect/good”.
After 7 1/2 years, it’s still just diversity of skin color…but never of thought. THIS is why I choose to be most minority of all minorities: The black conservative.
(Aka, the polar bear’s nose in a snowstorm)
Comment of the Day, Chris. Well-done.
I agree. And, Chris, you made me laugh. Fortunately, I was post-swallow rather than mid-swallow.
“But at NO point, was there any talk of “listen to, and compromise with, people that you disagree with because maybe, just maybe, they may have points that you have not considered. Maybe, just maybe, they may actually be right.”
I’ve always disliked the song “Imagine” because the concluding lines reflect exactly this attitude: “I hope some day YOU’LL join US, and the world will live as one.” Maybe better that everyone should give a little?
It’s interesting that you saw his speech as affirming everything the audience thinks of as good and being on the side of right. After looking a his speech, Obama seemed to me to be rebuking the Black Lives Matter movement for being too ideologically rigid and refusing to engage in the formal political process. He contrasts and compares their “hands-off” approach to MLK compromising and getting the Civil Rights Act passed with Johnson. He is actually critiquing some members of his audience, many of whom have participated in the BLM movement.
Obama starts out the section that you refer assuming that the other side has valid points. He talks about how input from both the affected community and police officers helped craft a workable police reform bill in Illinois as an example. *Then* he shifts, and says, “Hey, even if you think you are 100% correct, there is still some value to listening to the other side.”
He also starts his speech noting that people should proud of their blackness, and that there is no one way to be black, and then list several (humorous) examples.
I will say that I have not experienced the thought lockstep among the black people that I know in the way you seem to have experienced. They seem to share just as much diversity of opinions on a variety of topics as the whites, Asians, and Hispanics that I know. I don’t think that is a particularly shocking revelation.
Here is the Obama speech in full. He starts talking around 1:30:00 or so, and his talk about people listening and agreeing/disagreeing happens near the end of his speech, at around the two hour mark: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/watch-obamas-full-speech-to-graduates-at-howard-university/
I don’t have much time to rebut the majority of your post, as Im headed out the door, but I did want to respond to this:
“He talks about how input from both the affected community and police officers helped craft a workable police reform bill in Illinois as an example.”
He also very clearly concluded by saying that had he not sought that input, that the bill would not have passed. My (likely biased) takeaway from that, was what I alluded to in my post, not letting perfect get in the way of good. He expounded about taking the small victories, consolidating those victories, and moving on to the next battle. To me, it wasn’t he really sought the insight from the officers to improve the bill; it was that he knew (I believe he said as much, though I don’t have the transcript available) that the bill would not pass without their support. If he actually learned something from the input with the police that improved on his original intent of the bill, why is the bill only “workable”, as opposed to being improved, or the the best it could possibly be?
Simply the means to an end…take the small victory, and move on.
“I will say that I have not experienced the thought lockstep among the black people that I know in the way you seem to have experienced. They seem to share just as much diversity of opinions on a variety of topics as the whites, Asians, and Hispanics that I know. I don’t think that is a particularly shocking revelation.”
Really deery? Really? A demographic that has a 95% conformity as a voting bloc has just as much diversity as any other group? If white people displayed just as much diversity, democrats would never win outside of Detroit.
I can’t believe you’re that stupid. So now I just think you’re a liar.
Like the overall population, African-Americans are more likely to describe their political ideology as conservative (32%) or moderate (36%) than as liberal (23%). Members of evangelical churches and the most religiously committed members of all religious groups are most likely to describe themselves as conservative, while those who are unaffiliated and less religiously committed are among the least likely to describe themselves as such. http://www.pewforum.org/2009/01/30/a-religious-portrait-of-african-americans/
I will also say that there is more to diversity of thought than political behavior as well, as shocking as that apparently is to some. And also to flip that around, people that vote are not necessarily representative of the population as a whole (tending to be older and wealthier, as some examples).
I wonder how many white conservatives would be rushing to vote for a party which explicitly and implicitly demonized them, advocated for second-class citizenship for whites, and designed strategies that were designed to target whites for prison? ( http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/nixon-drug-war-racist_us_56f16a0ae4b03a640a6bbda1 ) Even if that party had a very attractive tax plan that appealed to you? It’s no mystery why, despite some pretty conservative beliefs, black people tend to vote largely for the Democratic ticket for the last 50 years or so.
“I wonder how many white conservatives would be rushing to vote for a party which explicitly and implicitly demonized them, advocated for second-class citizenship for whites, and designed strategies that were designed to target whites for prison?”
I dunno, how’s it feel to vote Democrat?
Ha! I won that bet. So thanks.
After 7 1/2 years, it’s still just diversity of skin color…but never of thought. THIS is why I choose to be most minority of all minorities: The black conservative.
I can’t help but always think of this skit whenever I hear a black conservative patting himself on the back for his diversity of thought: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G2tLyqfJd54
Boy, that skit’s really hilarious.
Here’s an example of dead pan sarcasm, or straightforward praise presented in a way in which it’s impossible to tell which.
Is it wrong that I found Bill’s reaction funnier than the skit?
It occurs to me that if the Harvard secret societies boast an alumnus list as impressive as Yale’s, and given that Harvard has the oldest Academic Masonic Lodge in the country, it almost certainly is, isn’t this almost suicidal? At least professionally?
The big question is, how does this affect the value of a Harvard degree to prospective employers?
Can’t be sure, but I tell you how it effects the value of a Harvard contribution to a potential donor…
Why would anyone feel excluded at Harvard? You’re only there for four years.You’re in one of the most exclusive clubs in the country, if not the world. It’s not a life sentence. You’re about to get the most prestigious undergrad degree available. Take it and say thank you very much and enjoy the privilege it will cover you with the rest of your life. Who cares if you’re not a Winthrop or a Kennedy or a Kerry. No policy change at Harvard is going to make you one anyway. Rich kids don’t like hanging out with kids who are not rich kids. Big deal. Stop studying -studies and learn a valuable skill and have a great life. As my aunt told me, “Keep your eye on the doughnut, not the hole.” Why aren’t college administrators saying these things to kids?
“Unrecognized single-gender social organizations”? Why don’t they just say unaffiliated fraternities and sororities? Sounds like pc college leadership gone haywire. Awfully high -handed.
Just for some background…this all started when the university studied sexual assaults on campus after a survey of senior women indicated that a third had experienced sexual assault, and 47% of women who were connected to these single sex organizations had experienced sexual assault (see my comment below about alcohol and hooking-up – and since the main activity at these clubs is alcohol infused parties – go figure?). So this is the solution – the finals clubs have to go co-ed or be banned. They are ignoring the fact that the vast majority of sexual assaults happen in student residences (which are very co-ed), and in particular in freshmen residences (also co-ed), all of which was detailed in the same report that produced the statistics above, and NO ONE wants to discuss the possibility that alcohol and the hook-up culture might have anything to do with this…
“Just for some background…this all started when the university studied sexual assaults on campus after a survey of senior women indicated that a third had experienced sexual assault, and 47% of women who were connected to these single sex organizations had experienced sexual assault”
Citation please. Studies on sexual assaults on campus are part of my bread and butter, and I haven’t seen that one yet. Which amazes me, because I can’t imagine the fear monger lobby not using it as a flagship.
“see my comment below ”
No such comment exists as of 8:34AM May 9th.
“So this is the solution – the finals clubs have to go co-ed or be banned.”
They’re already disassociated from the university, are you suggesting banishment as an institution? Because that would require the government saying that certain clubs cannot exist, which would directly break the 9th amendment. Even the Canadian constitution, which often acts as America Lite, directly references and protects that right.
“They are ignoring the fact that the vast majority of sexual assaults happen in student residences (which are very co-ed), and in particular in freshmen residences (also co-ed), all of which was detailed in the same report that produced the statistics above”
Citation please! And even if you can find a study that actually says that… Which for what it’s worth, I’m exceptionally skeptical of, it’s factually inaccurate. The “1 in 4” statistic was based off of a survey performed by Mary Koss in two post secondary institutions with a reporting population of just over 1000. The survey was voluntary, and open about it’s content, so there’s probably an amount of selection bias at work here, but even ignoring that, the survey only found a rate of 1 in 52 if you use the legal standards of rape. The way they got to 1 in 4 was by doing things like calling any sex performed concurrently with any liquor consumed rape, by removing the agency of consent. The respondent could explicitly say that she had not been raped, but Koss would include her, because she was apparently too stupid to know what had happened to her… Silly girls, am I right? Ignoring the 1300% inflation of numbers, The raw numbers from the Koss study showed that women on campus were actually LESS likely to be raped than the population at large. Regardless, we treat our girls like stepping onto a campus is like walking into the DNC, where rape as a weapon of war has ACTUALLY driven their rape statistic to 1 in 4.
Jesus you need some perspective.
This is rather an aside to Jack’s post (which, absent the aspersions, is spot-on), but one I think is somewhat relevant. As a not-even-close-to-having-a-silver-spoon member of a fraternity, I do not share Jack’s anti-fraternity bias (we never call our fraternity a frat, we don’t call sororities sores, and we certainly don’t call our country a…). Nonetheless, I’ll let you in on a dirty little secret: Fraternities, sororities, and every other club in America are membership organizations. Each one of them is dependent on membership – they thrive on membership. Without membership, they die. Thus, they are not near as exclusionary as critics make them out to be. Such organizations will accept almost anybody that shows an interest. Those excluded are obvious non-fits for the organization and its culture. In actuality, it is a benefit or favor to those excluded because they would be miserable within the organization. (In my case, I showed interest in four fraternities, was invited to pledge in three of them, and joined the one that was most inline with my values. As for the fourth, the one that rejected me, they did me a favor. I would not have fit in, and I would have been thinking, “God, what have I done?!”)
Most such organizations strive toward (and draw) excellence in excess of that achieved by the general public or by any student body generally. They seek to instill excellence and leadership in most every area of human interaction. As they are doing so with a team approach (which is often nationwide if not worldwide), they are generally producing and/or attracting more qualified leaders than those that choose to go it alone and exclude themselves from the team (group) experience. Excluding members of such clubs from leadership positions within Harvard will only lead to mediocrity (at best).
I can assure Faust that Harvard benefits from the resources (both human and monetary) provided by the members of each organization on and off campus that associates itself with Harvard. Those benefits far outweigh the benefit the college might receive from discriminating against club members.
Thanks for defending the organizations themselves, which deserve to have their legitimate virtues or intentions highlighted. Harvard banned Greek organizations long before I got there, for the same reasons I dislike and distrust them: the hazing, the discrimination, the groups’ attraction for jerks and tendency to develop tin god leadership, and their apparently unquenchable fondness for alcohol abuse. But when they are private, off-campus organizations, they are no more Harvard’s concern than an opera society.
I am a member of the Knights of Columbus. Would I be ineligible for a Rhodes Scholarship. Would a Catholic Priest earning a second degree a Harvard? How about a student at Harvard Divinity School being sponsored by a denomination with only male clergy? This policy is asinine and fundamentally undermining of the most basic of American values.
This was on WaPo, and so while reading the article, I took some deep, deep breaths, preparing myself for the comments section. I had my secret bottle of Captain and a shot glass at the ready, and had done some hand stretches in preparation: Someone might be wrong on the internet, and I was prepared to correct them.
I was actually pleasantly surprised. Happy day.
I bet this is almost enough to make wish you had gone to Yale instead.
It’s not THAT bad.