Tag Archives: Harvard College

Morning Ethics Warm-Up: 7/16/2017

 Isn’t it a lovely morning?

1. This isn’t the first post of the day: I woke up around 4 AM and couldn’t get back to sleep (“As My Guitar Gently Weeps” was playing over and over in my head, don’t ask me why, and images from the Red Sox 16 inning loss to the Yankees was giving me the night terrors), so I went to the office and wrote this post. Charlie Green, critic and friend, properly pointed out that my comment in passing that incorrectly alluded to rumors about Joseph P. Kennedy being a bootlegger was exactly what my  post was criticizing David Brooks for doing in his attack on the entire Trump family, going back generations, a truly ugly op-ed.

What I was sorely tempted to say was that I’m just an ethics blogger, trying to focus attention on ethics standards in a daily blog from which I receive no income and intangible professional benefits if any. I mange to get 2000-4000 words published every 24 hours, working in short bursts while I try to earn a living, run a business, do research and be as good a father and husband as I can be. I have no editors, no researchers (except generous volunteers) and my blog is not a “paper of record” for journalists, seen by millions and paid for by subscribers. Is it really fair to hold Ethics Alarms to the same standards as David Brooks and the New York Times?

Make no mistake: my own standards are that no typo, no misstated fact, no misleading argument, are acceptable on an ethics blog, or any blog, or anything published on the web. Charles was right: using an unproven accusation of long-standing (Until Charles flagged it, I thought the bootlegging charge was a matter of public record) undermines my case against Brooks. Nonetheless, Brooks has absolutely no excuse. This is all he does, he has all week to produce a column or two, and he has a staff.

I’ve also corrected my error within hours of making it. What are the chances that Brooks and the Times will ever admit that they intentionally impugned the character of Fred Trump using rumors and innuendo as part of their ongoing effort to demonize the President of the United States?

My guess: Zero.

2. The big story this morning appears to be O.J. Simpson’s parole hearing. Will he be paroled and released after serving just nine years of the three-decade sentence he received for his participation in a burglary? Assuming that it is true that O.J., now 70 and unlikely to stab any more ex-wives and innocent bystanders to death, has been a model prisoner, yes, that would be the ethical result. O.J. got away with a double murder—he will not be asked at the hearing, “Once you’re out, can we assume that you’ll renew your relentless hunt for the real killer?”—but he wasn’t put in prison for that crime. Officially, he’s innocent. His fellow burglars were all put on probation, while the judge threw the book at the former football star, presumably to exact a measure of societal revenge for Nicole and Ron. The sentence was unethical. I don’t feel sorry for O.J. at all; I’m glad he had to serve hard time, just as I would have been happy if he had been squashed by a meteor. Justice, however, demands that he go free.

The bastard. Continue reading

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Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Around the World, Arts & Entertainment, Education, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, History, Journalism & Media, Popular Culture

Ethics Quiz: Harvard’s Anti-Meme Vendetta

…or not

Harvard College rescinded admissions offers to at least ten anointed members of the Class of 2021 after it discovered that the prospective students traded sexually explicit memes and messages in a private Facebook group chat. Some of the memes apparently mocked and denigrated minority groups.

The admitted students had formed the messaging group, “Harvard memes for horny bourgeois teens,”on Facebook in late December, 2016.

The members of the group sent each other memes and other images mocking sexual assault, the Holocaust, and the deaths of children, among other topis.  Screenshots captured and obtained by the Harvard Crimson, the student newspaper, revealed that  some messages joked that abusing children was sexually arousing, while others had punchlines targeting ethnic or racial groups, like one that called hanging a Mexican child “piñata time.”

Harvard administrators were alerted  to the existence and contents of the chat and sent the students an e-mail that read,

“The Admissions Committee was disappointed to learn that several students in a private group chat for the Class of 2021 were sending messages that contained offensive messages and graphics As we understand you were among the members contributing such material to this chat, we are asking that you submit a statement by tomorrow at noon to explain your contributions and actions for discussion with the Admissions Committee. It is unfortunate that I have to reach out about this situation.”

A week later, at least ten members of the meme chat group were sent letters from Harvard announcing that their admission offers were no longer valid, and that the decision was final.

“As a reminder, Harvard College reserves the right to withdraw an offer of admission under various conditions including if an admitted student engages in behavior that brings into question his or her honesty, maturity, or moral character.”

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz Of The Day

Was Harvard’s action fair, reasonable and proportionate?

Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Childhood and children, Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Etiquette and manners, Gender and Sex, Humor and Satire, Quizzes, Rights

Ethics Dunces : Michigan State University Student Feminists

MSU womens_study_lounge

Higher education progressives, students, professors and administrators alike, are seriously confused about ethics, and some basic principles like fairness, respect, equity, and competence, not to mention common sense. How did they come to such a state?

For various reasons, none of them reasonable, Michigan State University had maintained that gender segregation was appropriate in the student Union, and  a study lounge there was designated for women only. Perhaps we can forgive the school’s initial judgment in this case, since the Union’s Women’s Lounge, located on the main floor of the MSU Union, debuted in 1925, just five years after women gained the right to vote.Men vastly outnumbered women then, and were looked upon as oddities, or perhaps temptation.

It is 2016, however, and women are demanding equality where it may already exist, and declaring gender discrimination where it may not, so the continued existence of the male excluding lounge was more than a bit anachronistic. After all, Harvard College just declared war on any male student who dared to belong to off-campus all-male clubs, since even freedom of association away from school is deeply offensive to the progressive values of Ivy League educators.

Then a University of Michigan-Flint professor named Mark Perry, filed a complaint to the Michigan Department of Civil Rights towards MSU alleging that the lounge violated federal anti-discrimination law, which it obviously does. Continue reading

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Filed under Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Gender and Sex, Law & Law Enforcement, U.S. Society

Dear Harvard: Fire President Drew Faust And Dean Rakesh Khurana

If these idiots are off-campus, 1) GOOD and 2) it's none of the college's business.

If these idiots do this off-campus, 1) GOOD and 2) it’s none of the college’s business.

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.

Wrote Faust in part:

“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. Continue reading

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Filed under Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Gender and Sex, Rights, U.S. Society

Oh, Fine, And I Already Burned My Diploma: Harvard Apologizes For The “Holiday Placemats for Social Justice”

Head in Hands

Well, that was fast! Good for Harvard, and good for Idrees M. Kalhoon…

apology Harvard

I wonder when all those other colleges and universities are going to apologize?

No, the letter isn’t perfect: the issue isn’t that the placemat confused the community, unless the deans mean that students were confused because they thought they were attending a university that was above this kind of nonsense. Actually, I doubt many were confused at all, and correctly concluded that Harvard, having already inflicted upon itself the idiocy of an Office for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, was getting exactly what such authorities deliver: politically correct, leftist indoctrination.

Well, I guess the deans couldn’t say, “This embarrassed our entire institution, and we will be throwing all the hacks responsible for this monstrosity into the Charles River at 3:00 PM, tomorrow. Cucumber sandwiches and mulled wine will be served.”

(Though I wish they had…)

It’s gratifying to know the “feedback” (“ARE YOU KIDDING ME? IF YOU DON’T RETRACT THAT CRAP AND BURN THOSE STUPID THINGS IN 24 HOURS, THERE ARE GOING TO BE SOME NEW DEANS AROUND HERE, CAPICHE?” Sincerely, The Harvard Board of Overseers.) was sufficient to prompt a quick retraction, and especially gratifying to know that the nation’s flagship private college still embraces the mission of nurturing “independent minds.”

Now maybe it will examine whether a grossly unbalanced ideological culture on campus is a rational way of doing that.

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Filed under Education

The Social Justice Talking Points Placemat: Harvard Finally Snaps

placemat

You will note that I have effectively resisted the temptation to excessively mock Yale for its embarrassing anti-free speech assaults, racial spoils games and political correctness bullying outbreak. Princeton, Dartmouth and Brown have also been disgraced by their students, faculty and administrators of late, but among the Ivies, my family’s favorite university (my parents even met and fell in love in The Yaahd) has pretty much avoided major humiliation, though the Law School had a silly dust-up over its seal and there is an ongoing controversy over black tape. I knew that if their other elite institutional colleagues were going nuts, it was only a matter of time before Harvard joined the loony parade, and sure enough, Harvard has a float.

In some ways, it’s worse than anything its rivals have come up with yet.

This sounds like an Onion parody, or maybe a stunt by the Harvard Lampoon. I’m still hoping it is: the Lampoon of old would do things like this. Harvard’s Office for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (Wait:  Harvard really has such an office? ARRRRRGHH!) distributed what it calls “Holiday Placemats for Social Justice” (How can anyone say that with a straight face? PLEASE let this be a Lampoon hoax!) to the freshman dining hall and a few upper class dining rooms to guide students through political and social policy conversations when they return home for Christmas break. (Does this remind you of the Obama administration’s directives to good little progressives about pushing Obamacare over the holidays? This is now the progressive way.)

The placemat presents talking points ( I still can’t believe I’m writing this) for students having discussions about controversial topics such as “Black Murders in the Street,” “House Master Title,” and “Islamophobia/Refugees.”

You know, when I was student, I guarantee such an insulting attempt at indoctrination would lead to a bonfire. Continue reading

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Filed under Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, Race

Harvard Picks The Wrong “Niggardly Principle”

Ah, Lowell House! I lived right under that damn bell tower. Never dreamed that the House Master was a slaveholder....

Ah, Lowell House! I lived right under that damn bell tower. Never dreamed that the House Master was a slaveholder….

I had been waiting with trepidation to see how Harvard would embarrass itself in the current college campus political correctness/ black student extortion/ free speech rejection meltdown. The result is an anti-climax, but, yes, still embarrassing.

Apparently some students have been making a classic “niggardly” complaint, like the infamous D.C. government employees who believed that good old Anglo-Saxon word for cheap was the racial slur it resembles. In the case of Harvard students, the beef was that the term “House Master,” used to describe the Harvard faculty member who oversees, manages and hosts one of the many residential “houses” that serve as mini-campuses for Harvard sophomores, juniors and seniors, was racially insensitive and offensive to black students. Never mind that the word “master” has dozens of applications, almost all of which have nothing to do with slavery. The theory appears to be that if a word has ever been used in a context offensive to blacks, all uses of the word in the future, whatever the context, must be assumed to have racially oppressive intent.

Huh. It’s funny: I attended Harvard with black students, and it was during a period when civil rights protests and upheaval were everywhere, including on campus. Yet somehow, this blatantly racist use of “master” never came up. Why? Well… Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Leadership, Race