Category Archive '“Fair Harvard”'

07 Apr 2017

The Stock of the Puritans Has Apparently Died

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Eden Girma, Harvard ’18, performing.

The Crimson reports that “the Puritan stock” is going to be re-written out of Harvard’s alma mater song.

Harvard will hold a competition to change the final line of “Fair Harvard,” the University’s 181-year-old alma mater, which has read “Till the stock of the Puritans die” since its composition in 1836.

Government professor Danielle S. Allen, co-chair of Presidential Task Force for Inclusion and Belonging, announced the plans to change the lyric at a three-hour event the task force held Wednesday in Sanders Theatre. Convened by University President Drew G. Faust in September, the committee is tasked with evaluating Harvard’s efforts to create an inclusive environment and recommend improvements.

The group is also launching a second competition for “a new musical variant” of the alma mater that could be performed as electronic, hip hop, or spoken word music. The traditional music would remain the official mode of performance for the song, but the new mode would be “preserved by the University as an endorsed alternative,” according to the group’s website—“The inspiration is ‘Hamilton.’ The point is to use your imagination,” it reads.

University affiliates can submit lyric and music variant submissions on the task force’s website through September, and winners will be announced in spring 2018.

Also at Wednesday’s event, the “Afternoon of Engagement on Inclusion and Belonging” featured remarks from Faust, stories from Harvard affiliates, and collaborative exercises designed to inform the task force’s future discussions.

In her welcoming remarks, Faust shared a story about receiving letters from young girls around the world after she became the University’s first female president.

“Diversity, inclusion, and belonging are fundamental to our missions and to our identity and essential for creating a better university, and the responsibility for that is one shared by students, faculty, and staff,” she said.

Individuals from across the University then took to the stage to discuss their personal experiences with “belonging.”…

Eden H. Girma ’18… recalled participating in a protest at Primal Scream, a biannual naked run around Harvard Yard before the first day of finals. The protesters wanted to observe minute and a half of silence for black men killed by police, Girma said.

“Thinking back to that experience, with all of the emotions that I had, I can only see at the moment, that seems so clear to me, seeing two Harvards. One, a student body that felt so intrinsically implicated in the violence that was happening in the world, and another that seemed so blind to that,” Girma said. “Thinking retrospectively, I know there are so many nuances to this.”

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“Fair Harvard”

Fair Harvard! we join in thy Jubilee throng,
And with blessings surrender thee o’er
By these Festival-rites, from the Age that is past,
To the Age that is waiting before.
O Relic and Type of our ancestors’ worth,
That hast long kept their memory warm,
First flow’r of their wilderness! Star of their night!
Calm rising thro’ change and thro’ storm.

Farewell! be thy destinies onward and bright!
To thy children the lesson still give,
With freedom to think, and with patience to bear,
And for Right ever bravely to live.
Let not moss-covered Error moor thee at its side,
As the world on Truth’s current glides by,
Be the herald of Light, and the bearer of Love,
Till the stock of the Puritans die.

Samuel Gilman, Class of 1811
[Revised 1998]

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Shouldn’t they also change the song’s title to “Dusky Harvard”?

The admission to elite Ivy League Schools of non-traditional applicants started out as an effort to make more national the constituency of such schools and to discharge what the administrations of those universities saw as a duty to supply a national leadership class. In those days, the basis for the admission of outsider applicants was a combination meritocratic grades and test scores with geographical diversity.

More recently, identity group representation and Affirmative Action compensatory admission of members of favored groups has played a major role in determining the makeup of classes at elite schools.

In my own day, we had only a small number of African-American classmates, but they were admitted on pretty much the same sort of bases as everybody else, getting only a small (equivalent to geographical diversity) number of extra points for being black. Our black classmates consequently integrated into their Yale classes quite conventionally.

A few years later, in the early 1970s, Yale had a larger constituency of African Americans, admitted with a much stronger dose of racial favoritism. Those admittees were commonly far less well prepared for Yale educationally and integrated far less well. They tended to hang out together in all black groups, and spent most of their time in the African-American identity house. One tended not to know any of them. A few were spectacular failures, winding up arrested for crimes on campus. One guy, admitted to Yale out of the New Haven inner city community, was busted for dealing heroin to townies out of his room in Jonathan Edwards.

Today, decades later, the representation of non-traditional minority groups at these elite schools is much larger still, and those groups of students are more unruly, more obsessed with group identity and historical grievances, more self-entitled than ever.

In the early decades of the 20th Century, presidents of elite schools like Harvard placed a strict quota on Jewish admissions, fearing that intensely keen Jewish academic competition would change the composition of classes and the constituency of such schools completely, remaking them into Jewish institutions.

Today, minority admittees and presiding administrations eagerly lobby for fundamentally changing the composition, constituency, and even the complexion of those schools. Matters have reached a point at which the non-traditional groups feel entitled to rename buildings and to purge references and memorials to illustrious alumni and benefactors on the basis of their own amour propre. Now, at Harvard, they are sending the founders and original constituency of the college into exile from the school’s alma mater. All this causes me to wonder: had the people who initiated the effort at diversity admissions been able to foresee this occurring, would they ever have admitted any of these minorities at all in the first place?


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