Category Archive 'Harvard'
20 Apr 2020

Harvard Law Child Advocacy Prof Wants Home Schooling Banned

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Elizabeth Bartholet moderates a panel discussion. Elizabeth Bartholet is the Morris Wasserstein Public Interest Professor of Law and Faculty Director of the Child Advocacy Program (CAP), which she founded in the fall of 2004. She teaches civil rights and family law, specializing in child welfare, adoption, and reproductive technology. Before joining the Harvard Faculty, she was engaged in civil rights and public interest work, first with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, and later as founder and director of the Legal Action Center, a non-profit organization in New York City focused on criminal justice and substance abuse issues. She is the author of many publications on child welfare.

Bartholet is a classic villain right out of an Ayn Rand novel. She recognizes the alarming possibility that kids might grow up Christian, or worse: Republican via parental influence. If kids are home-schooled that means they will miss out on crucial brain-washing and indoctrination at the hands of liberal teachers.

Harvard Magazine:

Elizabeth Bartholet, Wasserstein public interest professor of law and faculty director of the Law School’s Child Advocacy Program, sees risks for children—and society—in homeschooling, and recommends a presumptive ban on the practice. Homeschooling, she says, not only violates children’s right to a “meaningful education” and their right to be protected from potential child abuse, but may keep them from contributing positively to a democratic society.

“We have an essentially unregulated regime in the area of homeschooling,” Bartholet asserts. All 50 states have laws that make education compulsory, and state constitutions ensure a right to education, “but if you look at the legal regime governing homeschooling, there are very few requirements that parents do anything.” Even apparent requirements such as submitting curricula, or providing evidence that teaching and learning are taking place, she says, aren’t necessarily enforced. Only about a dozen states have rules about the level of education needed by parents who homeschool, she adds. “That means, effectively, that people can homeschool who’ve never gone to school themselves, who don’t read or write themselves.” In another handful of states, parents are not required to register their children as homeschooled; they can simply keep their kids at home. …

She views the absence of regulations ensuring that homeschooled children receive a meaningful education equivalent to that required in public schools as a threat to U.S. democracy. “From the beginning of compulsory education in this country, we have thought of the government as having some right to educate children so that they become active, productive participants in the larger society,” she says. This involves in part giving children the knowledge to eventually get jobs and support themselves. “But it’s also important that children grow up exposed to community values, social values, democratic values, ideas about nondiscrimination and tolerance of other people’s viewpoints,” she says, noting that European countries such as Germany ban homeschooling entirely and that countries such as France require home visits and annual tests.

In the United States, Bartholet says, state legislators have been hesitant to restrict the practice because of the Home Schooling Legal Defense Association, a conservative Christian homeschool advocacy group, which she describes as small, well-organized, and “overwhelmingly powerful politically.” During the last 30 years, activists have worked to dismantle many states’ homeschooling restrictions and have opposed new regulatory efforts. “There’s really no organized political opposition, so they basically get their way,” Bartholet says. A central tenet of this lobby is that parents have absolute rights that prevent the state from intervening to try to safeguard the child’s right to education and protection.

Bartholet maintains that parents should have “very significant rights to raise their children with the beliefs and religious convictions that the parents hold.” But requiring children to attend schools outside the home for six or seven hours a day, she argues, does not unduly limit parents’ influence on a child’s views and ideas. “The issue is, do we think that parents should have 24/7, essentially authoritarian control over their children from ages zero to 18? I think that’s dangerous,” Bartholet says. “I think it’s always dangerous to put powerful people in charge of the powerless, and to give the powerful ones total authority.”

She concedes that in some situations, homeschooling may be justified and effective. “No doubt there are some parents who are motivated and capable of giving an education that’s of a higher quality and as broad in scope as what’s happening in the public school,” she says. But Bartholet believes that if parents want permission to opt out of schools, the burden of proving that their case is justified should fall on parents.

“I think an overwhelming majority of legislators and American people, if they looked at the situation,” Bartholet says, “would conclude that something ought to be done.”

RTWT

22 Nov 2019

That’s Important!

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The Crimson reports on the latest vital and totally relevant administrative initiative up there at the little commuter school of the Charles.

University President Lawrence S. Bacow announced the creation of a University-wide initiative to address and further research the school’s ties to slavery in an email sent to Harvard affiliates Thursday.

Bacow selected Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study Dean Tomiko Brown-Nagin to be the head of a new University-wide faculty committee that will lead the initiative. The University has designated $5 million for the program, according to Bacow’s email.
“It is my hope that the work of this new initiative will help the university gain important insights about our past and the enduring legacy of slavery — while also providing an ongoing platform for our conversations about our present and our future as a university community committed to having our minds opened and improved by learning,” Bacow wrote.

Bacow wrote that the Radcliffe Institute will work closely with library and museum staff to host both programs and academic opportunities related to the issue.

“By engaging a wide array of interests and expertise, as Radcliffe is uniquely suited to do, this initiative will reflect the remarkable power of bringing together individuals from across Harvard in pursuit of a common purpose,” he wrote.

Other faculty on the 12-person committee include former Law School Dean Martha L. Minow and former Dean of the College Evelynn M. Hammonds.

Bacow’s announcement comes as the University continues to grapple with its ties to slavery. In March, Connecticut resident Tamara K. Lanier filed a lawsuit against Harvard alleging the University unlawfully owns and profits off photos of enslaved people who she says are her ancestors.

Earlier this month, the prime minister of Antigua and Barbuda penned a letter to Bacow demanding reparations from Harvard for its historical ties to slavery.

In his letter, Bacow also wrote about efforts that former University President Drew G. Faust spearheaded several years ago like installing memorials commemorating enslaved individuals at Wadsworth House and Harvard Law School, and creating a faculty committee to study the University’s ties to slavery.

In February 2016, former Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Michael D. Smith announced that faculty leaders of the 12 undergraduate houses would be renamed “Faculty Deans” — a shift away from the former term “House Master,” which some students associated with slavery.

A month later, the Harvard Corporation — the University’s highest governing body — agreed to remove the Law School’s controversial seal, which featured the crest of a slaveholding family. The decision came after pieces of black tape were found over the portraits of black Law School professors in November 2015 and months of student protests.

The initiative announced Thursday will focus on researching further the connections Harvard has to the slave trade and to abolition movements, Bacow said in his email.

“Harvard has a unique role in the history of our country, and we have a distinct obligation to understand how our traditions and our culture here are shaped by our past and by our surroundings — from the ways the university benefitted from the Atlantic slave trade to the debates and advocacy for abolition on camp,” Bacow wrote.

After all, hey! it’s only been a mere 236 years since Massachusetts abolished Slavery in 1783!

The great discovery of our Enlightened Age is the principle that the Universe revolves around left-wing sob stories.

25 Oct 2019

Yale Wins!

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The Harvard Crimson uncritically reports the sexual assault survey which proves that it’s a lot more dangerous to send your daughter to an elite Ivy League school than to have her walk home at midnight through the worst neighborhood in Chicago.

But, hey! at least Yale comes out on top!

A national sexual misconduct climate survey administered to universities across the country earlier this year revealed that most schools did not see a significant change in the prevalence of sexual assault compared with incident rates four years ago, according to the results released earlier this month.

The American Association of Universities survey found that among similarly sized peer institutions, Harvard’s rate of sexual misconduct tended toward average.

Harvard’s prevalence rate of “nonconsensual sexual contact” for undergraduate women was within a percentage point of both Stanford’s and Brown’s. Harvard and Stanford both saw rates of roughly 33 percent, while Brown’s rate is 34 percent. Yale’s rate is higher at 39 percent, while MIT’s is lower at 27 percent.

RTWT

And some people just don’t understand why ordinary Americans have lost confidence in the wisdom and judgment of our national elite establishment.

17 Oct 2019

Harvard Band Members Walk Out Following an Alumn’s Joke

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The Crimson won’t even tell us what he actually said.

Understandably. All those little millennial snowflakes melt whenever any old, white male says something transgressive and un-PC.

But, cheer up, the alumnus did grovel and confess his Speech Crime in the end. I guess he’ll just get a bit of political reeducation, they won’t have to harvest his organs after all.

More than 70 members of the Harvard Band walked out of a banquet celebrating the group’s centennial Saturday after an alumnus joked about the group’s decision to implement a sexual harassment policy.

At the banquet, former band member Richard “Rich” D. Horn ’72 began his speech with a joke about the group’s decision to implement the policy, which undergraduates distributed to alumni ahead of the reunion. As Horn continued to speak, roughly 75 attendees left the room, according to an emailed statement by the band’s senior staff. Many of those who walked out did not return for the remainder of the event.

Horn wrote in an email that he regrets that others interpreted his remarks as a criticism of the policy, which provides band members with a formal disclosure system to report incidences of sexual misconduct, according to a copy of the policy obtained by The Crimson.

“I sympathize with the frustration of decades of Band women in dealing with sexism both in the Band and elsewhere. I strongly support the Band’s sexual harassment policy and did not mean to imply otherwise,” he wrote. “I deeply regret any implication to the contrary. This is an issue on which emotions understandably and rightly run high, and I ought to have known better. Hopefully, I will do better in any future occasion.”

A separate speaker had also joked about the sexual harassment policy before Horn, according to the band’s staff. That speaker later apologized for his remarks, the band wrote in its statement.
After some attendees left the room, Harvard Band Foundation president Camaron “Cammie” S. O’Connor Wynn ’94 made an impromptu speech apologizing for the disruption, according to the band. O’Connor Wynn wrote in an email that band leadership, including both undergraduates and alumni, sought to address concerns about Horn’s comments both during and after the banquet.

“Attempts at humor by two brief (not primary) alumni speakers at our 100th reunion banquet touched on the Band’s sexual misconduct policy as a policy — in the sense of the necessity of censoring one’s own speech to fit with the new policy,” O’Connor Wynn wrote.
The Band’s senior staff wrote in an emailed statement that the sexual harassment policy previously caused controversy in the band’s alumni Facebook group when some alumni questioned the need for such a policy. The staff wrote that some alumni had written in the chat that the policy was “in contrast to the spirit of the band that they had known in their time.”

Band manager Lucaian Al-Tariq ’20 sent the emailed statement to The Crimson. Drill master Reese Garcia ’21, student conductor Marcos B. Cecchini ’21, drum major and Crimson multimedia editor Mariah E. D. Dimalaluan ’20, social chair Selket R. Jewett ’21, reunion manager Jessica D. Bishai ’20, and assistant reunion manager Jessica A. Boutchie ’21 also signed the statement.

“[M]uch has changed even within the past decade,” they wrote. “The jokes that were made may express discomfort in confronting this change; older alumni may have been surprised to see just how much the structure and nature of the Band have changed over time.”
“Both their discomfort and the reactions of the undergrads exemplify how deeply all generations of bandies care for this organization, despite its changes,” they added.

16 Oct 2019

Millennial Snowflakes Puzzled and Bummed Out Over Unequal Treatment of People Without Money

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Harvard has a traditional Fall Clean-Up, in which freshman student employees arrive early to make a few bucks tiding up Harvard’s residential houses in preparation for the arrival of the entire undergraduate student body.

Although cleaning dormitory rooms and bathrooms is work, Harvard tries to put an element of fun into it as well.

What is Fall Clean-Up?

For more than sixty years, Dorm Crew has welcomed Harvard first-years to campus for our annual Fall Clean-Up (FCU). Created in 1951, Dorm Crew is a student employment and leadership program that is entirely managed and operated by Harvard undergraduates. Today, Dorm Crew offers employment opportunities, leadership development, advising resources, and pre-orientation programing to more than 800 students annually. Each year, 300 incoming first-years join FCU to have fun and work hard while cleaning and preparing the dorms for student move-in. Throughout the week, students will have the opportunity to explore and engage with Harvard’s campus and community through various planned events. …

Year after year, students have found Fall Clean-Up to be a rewarding experience that offers a great community of friends and provides an unrivaled introduction to the diversity of the Harvard community, the aged beauty of Harvard’s student residences, and the vibrant life of Harvard Square. Under the guidance of our upperclassman captains, we aim to deliver a Fall Clean-Up experience that truly orients students to what life at Harvard is all about.

Some alumni report that they enjoyed the experience:

As I reflect back on my life, that first week or two of freshman year, with the bonding with my fellow freshman Dorm Crew members, was an extraordinary stress reliever as we found out about each other and that we were all scared to death that Harvard had made a mistake admitting each one of us! I will never forget those initial few weeks in Cambridge.” —Ray Peters ’69

“I loved FCU because I met some of my best friends at Harvard and found a community that has been really important to me throughout my time in college.”
—Sarah E. Lagan ‘19

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But the Harvard Crimson staff stroked its collective chin, and decided there was a PROBLEM here.

Oh, migod! Who would have imagined? Not everyone at Harvard is rich, some people are there on scholarship and need to take jobs in order to earn money. Everyone is not the same. It just isn’t fair!

Bedford felt out of place, just as the sight of trash in Murdock’s sink left him feeling neglected by the University. From the beginning, Bedford and Murdock felt that the University deemed them different from their peers.

It took Bedford some time to pinpoint exactly why he felt alienated. Amidst meeting other students and recovering from jetlag, he did not look around and think, “Oh, we’re all here because we’re poor and we need money.” At the time, he says he “had no conception of the” — here, his voice lowers in emphasis — “disparity that is present on this campus between rich and poor.” But shortly into his time at Harvard, he began to reconsider the way Fall Clean-Up functions: It distinguishes between the students who need to earn quick money for school supplies and those who do not.

Many of the students who end up participating in FCU would have liked to do other programs. “What turned me off about FUP at the time wasn’t what it was, but what it wasn’t. And it wasn’t a program that paid me,” Ibrahim says. “Fall Clean-Up gave me dollars, and I needed that.”

During pre-orientation, some students can afford to do what they love. Others don’t have that luxury.

I’ve noticed the exact same problem in life after college. If you want something, if you want a home with electricity, heat, and in-door plumbing, you actually have to get a job and work to pay for all of it.

23 Sep 2019

Woke Snowflakes to the Harvard Lampoon: “That’s Not Funny!”

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The Harvard Lampoon today is a sinner in the hand of an angry Harvard Crimson Editorial Board.

Ten students recently protested one of the Harvard Lampoon’s comp meetings, condemning the undergraduate humor magazine for its insensitive content, and what they claim is a hostile and exclusive institutional culture.

As a Board, we applaud the protesters for standing up to the Lampoon. We condemn the magazine’s publication of offensive and culturally insensitive content and sympathize with the protesters’ claims that the organization has a hostile internal culture. We hope the Lampoon views the protests as impetus to work harder to build a better culture and better institutional pathways to screen their content before publication.

Last May, the Lampoon published an inappropriate, sexualized image of Holocaust victim Anne Frank, which Director of Harvard Hillel Rabbi Jonah C. Steinberg compared to the “obscenity of the Nazis.” This abhorrent incident was a striking dispay of hypersexualization and anti-Semitism, but must be understood as only one of many instances in which the Lampoon’s actions have peddled in such morally reprehensible sentiments as humor. The magazine has — in the past — made sexist jokes, from comparing women to dogs to insensitive jokes about University President Lawrence S. Bacow’s wife. And its insensitive content extends beyond the Anne Frank image as well, including an inappropriate joke about ISIS and minorities in final clubs. As if this smorgasbord of poor taste were not harmful enough, the Lampoon has also put out content trivializing a number of delicate issues such as suicide and fat-shaming.

The editors of the Lampoon said in a statement that their publishing process “lacks sufficient editorial oversight.” We believe this lack of oversight can lead to an inability to discern what kinds of humor are in poor taste.

We sympathize with the protesters and believe the Lampoon must take steps to address their concerns. And although the Lampoon has tried to take steps toward increasing diversity and accessibility — through steps such as newly instated positions to their Accessibility Council and Office of Sexual Assault Prevention and Response training for new members — we believe these efforts are insufficient. The Lampoon should, in addition to OSAPR training for its members, require implicit bias training and should be more explicit about the ways their comp and internal culture have improved to avoid this in the future.

In seeking change at the Lampoon, we believe the student body has a huge amount of power. We call on students who are considering comping the Lampoon to consider the culture that has enabled the systemic production and amplification of offensive and culturally insensitive content. In so doing, we hope they either choose not to comp the Lampoon, or, in comping it, to demand change.

RTWT

The spirit of Cotton Mather rides again!

24 Jul 2019

Weirdest Story of the Year

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Bruce Hay.

How smart are the elite intelligentsia really? Should ordinary Americans be more deferential and start bowing to the consensus of the elite on Global Warming, on Social Justice, and on Donald Trump?

Before you make up your mind read the introductory comments by Rod Dreher below and follow the link to the original New York Magazine story.

Sit down, my people, and read the craziest true story you will read this year or maybe even this decade.

It is written by a journalist named Kera Bolonik, who has made an extremely complicated story comprehensible, in the sense that she recalls a logical progression of events. Nothing else about it makes sense. It’s a story about a liberal Harvard Law professor who is a world-historical boob — and about how two grifters (a transwoman and his best friend) stole his house and used Title IX to further ruin his life.

In 2015, a mysterious young woman named Maria-Pia Shuman flirted with Prof. Bruce Hay in a Cambridge hardware store. Hay, who makes Pajama Boy come off like Vin Diesel. is married, but he and his wife, Jennifer Zacks, live together with their children as roommates, no longer lovers. What would a little fling with the sexy young woman hurt? …

Read it all. Trust me. I’m not going to go further here, because to tell even just a piece of it without telling the whole story would not do it justice. You have to read to see what these insane grifters did to this moron and his innocent wife and kids. It really does read like Fatal Attraction meets a transgender Bonfire of the Vanities. Golden quote: “I just really hate the patriarchy, that’s it.”

05 Jul 2019

Most Students These Days Keep Their Heads Down

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Sahil Handa, an intelligent young undergraduate, reports from the front-lines of the Snowflake Revolution at Harvard.

Much of the debate about campus culture would have you believe that the average college student is hellbent on tearing down the patriarchy. One wakes up in the morning, wallows in grievance, and proceeds to spend the day railing against the evils of privilege.

I attend Harvard University, one of the places most associated with such snowflakery. I also happen to be a brown British student who wears colorful Hawaiian shirts, dances to techno, acts in undergraduate theater, and listens to jazz. I say this not to brandish my victimhood credentials, nor to make any claims to artistic ability — I say it because these facts get me invited into liberal social circles that, unfortunately, most conservative commentators do not.

So, is the description accurate? In my experience, not particularly. I’d say it describes roughly 5 percent of the undergraduate population — a few hundred or so social-justice warriors who consider their mere survival on Harvard’s campus to be a form of triumphalist activism. These woke icons are overwhelmingly middle class, incredibly entitled, and extraordinarily outspoken. They respond to any virtue signal with finger snaps and use the word “problematic” in every other sentence. They see themselves as engaged in a perpetual war against a white, male, neoliberal blob — wrong opinions must be canceled, and insufficiently woke speakers ruined. Trump supporters are too far gone to bother persuading.

But most students do not subscribe to the madness. Contrarian conservatives repudiate it and find sanctuary in the Republican Club. Others are too focused on studying and partying to care. The majority stay silent and air their concerns in private, so that they won’t be forced to bear the inevitable social cost.

RTWT

22 Mar 2019

Race-Baiting Harvard

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Daguerrotype of Renty, 1850.

If you are on the Left, no story, however implausible, can be subject to skepticism if it serves the interests of the right people.

AP:

Harvard University has “shamelessly” turned a profit from photos of two 19th-century slaves while ignoring requests to turn the photos over to the slaves’ descendants, according to a lawsuit filed Wednesday.

Tamara Lanier, of Norwich, Connecticut, is suing the Ivy League school for “wrongful seizure, possession and expropriation” of images she says depict two of her ancestors. Her suit, filed in Massachusetts state court, demands that Harvard immediately turn over the photos, acknowledge her ancestry and pay an unspecified sum in damages.

Harvard spokesman Jonathan Swain said the university “has not yet been served, and with that is in no position to comment on this complaint.”

At the center of the case is a series of 1850 daguerreotypes, an early type of photo, taken of two South Carolina slaves identified as Renty and his daughter, Delia. Both were posed shirtless and photographed from several angles. The images are believed to be the earliest known photos of American slaves.

They were commissioned by Harvard biologist Louis Agassiz, whose theories on racial difference were used to support slavery in the U.S. The lawsuit says Agassiz came across Renty and Delia while touring plantations in search of racially “pure” slaves born in Africa.

“To Agassiz, Renty and Delia were nothing more than research specimens,” the suit says. “The violence of compelling them to participate in a degrading exercise designed to prove their own subhuman status would not have occurred to him, let alone mattered.”

The suit attacks Harvard for its “exploitation” of Renty’s image at a 2017 conference and in other uses. It says Harvard has capitalized on the photos by demanding a “hefty” licensing fee to reproduce the images. It also draws attention to a book Harvard sells for $40 with Renty’s portrait on the cover. The book, called “From Site to Sight: Anthropology, Photography, and the Power of Imagery,” explores the use of photography in anthropology.

Among other demands, the suit asks Harvard to acknowledge that it bears responsibility for the humiliation of Renty and Delia and that Harvard “was complicit in perpetuating and justifying the institution of slavery.”

A researcher at a Harvard museum rediscovered the photos in storage in 1976. But Lanier’s case argues Agassiz never legally owned the photos because he didn’t have his subjects’ consent and that he didn’t have the right to pass them to Harvard. Instead, the suit says, Lanier is the rightful owner as Renty’s next of kin.

The suit also argues that Harvard’s continued possession of the images violates the 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery.

“Renty is 169 years a slave by our calculation,” civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump, one of Lanier’s lawyers, said in an interview. “How long will it be before Harvard finally frees Renty?”

Lanier says she grew up hearing stories about Renty passed down from her mother. While enslaved in Columbia, South Carolina, Renty taught himself to read and later held secret Bible readings on the plantation, the suit says. He is described as “small in stature but towering in the minds of those who knew him.”

The suit says Lanier has verified her genealogical ties to Renty, whom she calls “Papa Renty.” She says he is her great-great-great-grandfather.

If given the photos, Lanier said she would tell “the true story of who Renty was.” But she also hopes her case will spark a national discussion over race and history.

“This case is important because it will test the moral climate of this country, and force this country to reckon with its long history of racism,” Lanier said at a news conference outside the Harvard Club of New York City.

Crump, her attorney, added that the case could allow Harvard to “remove the stain from its legacy” and show it has the courage “to finally atone for slavery.”

RTWT

The genealogy of African Americans is notoriously difficult to document, since Antebellum census records failed to record the names of slaves at all. But Tamara Lanier, we are to believe, has successfully documented her connection with a 1850 photographic subject, known only as “Renty.”

Not only that, she knows all sorts of interesting things about her alleged ancestor. (Hyperallergic)

How ironic it is to know that the black African chosen by a scientist to be the symbol of ignorance and racial inferiority was truly an educated and self-taught man,” Lanier told The Day. According to her family’s verbal history, Renty taught himself to read, and taught other slaves using a book called the Blue Back Webster. “My goal is to correct history and to share with all that … Renty was an educated and exceptional person.”

“Papa Renty was a proud and kind man who, like so many enslaved men, women, and children endured years of unimaginable horrors,” Lanier told the Boston Globe. “Harvard’s refusal to honor our family’s history by acknowledging our lineage and its own shameful past is an insult to Papa Renty’s life and memory.”

But, her actual familial connection to Renty, we are then told, is, after all, not that important.

A number of experts expressed to the NYT that they believe Lanier’s case may not hold up in court. Intellectual property lawyer Rick Kurnit says he believes she will have a difficult time proving ownership over the images, referencing the infamous “V-J Day in Times Square,” which belonged to the photographer rather than the sailor or the nurse who are kissing in the image. However, the NYT notes, the “V-J” image was taken in a public space.

Gregg Hecimovich, chairman of the English department at Furman University, believes Lanier’s claim to ancestral history is shaky, but Molly Rogers, the author of a book called Delia’s Tears, posits, “It’s not necessarily by blood. It could be people who take responsibility for each other. Terms, names, family relationships are very much complicated by the fact of slavery.”

Appropriately enough, she is being represented by Benjamin Crump, an African-American attorney specializing in representing racially-based claims.

Algonquin J. Calhoun was clearly unavailable.

Benjamin Crump, one of Lanier’s lawyers, calls the case “unprecedented in terms of legal theory and reclaiming property that was wrongfully taken. Renty’s descendants may be the first descendants of slave ancestors to be able to get their property rights.” In 2012, Crump represented the family of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed Black teenager murdered by George Zimmerman while walking home.

06 Mar 2019

Harvard Checks “Climate” — Snowflakes Mustn’t Melt!

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Oh, me! Oh, my! Can Harvard students possibly bear up and survive in a climate in which their own House Master/Faculty Dean (and Law Professor) proposes to represent a cad like Harvey Weinstein accused of numberless cases of crude advances, sexual harrassment, and generally being a masher?

Harvard Crimson asks that important question, and apparently is asking it on behalf of the management of Harvard itself. Presumably in the case of unfavorable responses, Harvard’s Administration will lay in a copious supply of smelling salts, fainting couches, and gallon jugs of Lydia Pinkham’s. There will doubtless as well be long queues of desperate Harvard students lining up for counseling.

“Doctor, how could he? How could he represent that… that beast?”

Harvard College’s institutional research office sent an anonymous, online survey to Winthrop House residents Tuesday as part of a review process aimed at addressing students’ concerns about Faculty Dean Ronald S. Sullivan, Jr.’s decision to represent Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein as he faces charges of sexual assault.

The survey asks students a series of questions about whether they feel welcome in the House. It also asks them to score Winthrop on a five-point scale based on whether they believe the House is “hostile” or “friendly,” “contentious” or “collegial,” and “sexist” or “non-sexist,” among other metrics.

Dean of the College Rakesh Khurana announced that former Dean of Freshmen Thomas A. Dingman ’67 would lead a “climate review” in an email to Winthrop residents on Feb. 25. Khurana wrote that the College decided to launch the review after hearing concerns surrounding support structures for students in the House following Sullivan’s decision to defend Weinstein.

Harvard College Institutional Research wrote in its Tuesday email that in trying to examine the “climate” of Winthrop, the survey will use Pennsylvania State University professor Sue Rankin’s definition of climate: “the current attitudes, behaviors and standards of faculty, staff, administrators and students concerning the level of respect for individual needs, abilities and potential.”

In response to Sullivan’s decision to join Weinstein’s defense team, some students started protests and wrote open letters calling for his removal as faculty dean.

The survey sent Tuesday begins with a question about students’ level of satisfaction with the House’s climate. It continues by asking students to indicate their level of agreement — from “Strongly Agree” to “Strongly Disagree” — with a series of statements evaluating their experiences in the House.
Some of the statements read “I feel I belong in Winthrop House” and “Winthrop House has a strong commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.”

Another question asks students to rank the House on 12 different characteristics including disrespectful or respectful, elitist or non-elitist, homophobic or non-homophobic, and racist or non-racist.

The survey closes with two demographic questions and a space for additional comments.
The College will use the results gathered from Winthrop affiliates to guide any further action, Khurana wrote in his original email.

RTWT

I try to imagine the Yale Daily News, back in 1966, inquiring if we “felt welcome” in our Yale freshman dorms or residential colleges, and I have to hold on to the arms of my chair not to fall out of it laughing.

Can you imagine not feeling welcome in one of the poshest, most luxurious undergraduate colleges in the country and the world?

I am reminded of the comedy film, in which the upper class mother points out to her unhappy adolescent daughter: “You know, you will never again, in the rest of your life, be this rich or this thin!”

A friend of mine used to remark ruefully that life after Yale amounted to constant struggle to try to live as well as you did as a Yale undergraduate.

12 Sep 2018

Getting Into the Top Ivies These Days

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Harvard.

I once answered a question on Quora about Yale, so pretty much every day I receive a email asking to answer the question “How do I get into Yale?” from some exotic resident of the remote Third World.

Clearly, the mysteries of elite Ivy League admissions are an intriguing topic these days all over the world.

I ran into a Quora posting this morning from a U. Chicago guy named Hasnat, quoting an anonymous Harvard 2006 graduate who had worked in the Harvard Admissions Office.

I thought it pretty accurately captured a home truth applicable to Yale as well, that, beyond grades and test scores (which had better be high), they are looking for a certain kind of exceptionality and competitiveness. They want people out of the ordinary.

I think you need to join Quora and all that to open a link, so I cut-and-pasted the whole bloody thing to make life easier for NYM readers.

[A] little bit of advice.

“First of all, there are a number of small factors that can move the admissions needle in small amounts: location, economic background, race. You can just accept that these exist and don’t really count for much—a slight counterbalance to the general advantages that wealthier folks tend to enjoy as a rule. Or you can spend millions of dollars on lawyers and consultants, and hundreds of hours fighting in court in order to claw back this tiny little potential advantage from those in the lower half of the socioeconomic spectrum.

“Either way, these are things beyond your control, and I’d recommend not worrying about them. Frankly, it’s the cheaper and quicker option.

“Otherwise, the official party line, as taken verbatim from Harvard’s longtime Dean of Admissions, William Fitzsimmons (class of 1963, dean since 1986) is that Harvard selects for “academic excellence, extracurricular distinction, and personal qualities.” And that sounds good—who doesn’t love excellence?—until you think about it.

“What Dean Fitzsimmons really means is that he isn’t going to tell you anything substantial (that’s why he’s lasted for so long in his job). So I will tell you that in this context, measuring “academic excellence” really boils down to two things: Will this applicant graduate on time and happy?

“Pure intelligence is one part, hence the focus on scores and GPAs. Harvard is difficult, and someone who has never seen a differential equation will probably struggle in the basic required math courses; isomeone who has never read a Steinbeck novel or a Shakespeare play will probably feel excluded from general English Lit.

“But so is extracurricular activity. You might be smart, but do you have the discipline to keep going for four years? How do you respond to setbacks, challenges, opposition? Do you show signs of life in the wider world? In short: are you of sound mind?

“The 4.0 student who just works the ball-washing station at the country club does not necessarily demonstrate great time-management skills. On the other hand, we’ll take the person who has an A-minus GPA but spends most of her free time in a research lab breeding generations of flies for genetic tests, thank you very much. This is why admissions officers will say “well-rounded” until they’re blue in the face. There’s nothing wrong with plain old eggheads—but let’s try and get out there once in a while, too.

“And when the committee selects for the mysterious and ephemeral “personal qualities,” well, we want to know how much of a jerk the candidate is, and how well they’ll respond to a campus full of jerks.

“Let’s be honest: Harvard and its affiliates will inflict some kind of damage (academic, emotional, occasionally physical) on everyone who lingers there. It is a place where everyone is out to get everyone else. In a place where no one can be the best at everything, everyone takes any chance they can get to measure up to their peers. It is a mob of ruthless young overachievers with a taste for blood.

“Ayn Rand, eat your heart out. Your Objectivist paradise is alive and well, and its name is Harvard. Here, people believe that each of them is a “heroic being,” that their individual happiness is a moral absolute, that their own reason is ironclad and incorruptible. Just look at what four years of that does to a person. Never mind the outliers like Mark Zuckerberg and Ted Kaczynski. You just need to look at the offices of Wall Street investment banks (where half of the graduating class of Harvard ends up every year). Or the op-ed pages of New York newspapers. Or the halls of Congress (one shudders at the thought).
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11 Aug 2018

White-Bashing Can Be an Excellent Career Move

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Reihan Salam is of Bangladeshi extraction and went to Harvard, so he is in a position to explain precisely where Sarah Jeong’s animosity toward white men is coming from.

In some instances, white-bashing can actually serve as a means of ascent, especially for Asian Americans. Embracing the culture of upper-white self-flagellation can spur avowedly enlightened whites to eagerly cheer on their Asian American comrades who show (abstract, faceless, numberless) lower-white people what for. And, simultaneously, it allows Asian Americans who use the discourse to position themselves as ethnic outsiders, including those who are comfortably enmeshed in elite circles.

Think about what it takes to claw your way into America’s elite strata. Unless you were born into the upper-middle class, your surest route is to pursue an elite education. To do that, it pays to be exquisitely sensitive to the beliefs and prejudices of the people who hold the power to grant you access to the social and cultural capital you badly want. By setting the standards for what counts as praiseworthy, elite universities have a powerful effect on youthful go-getters. Their admissions decisions represent powerful “nudges” towards certain attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors, and I’ve known many first- and second-generation kids—I was one of them—who intuit this early on.

Consider the recent contretemps over Harvard’s undergraduate admissions policies. Critics argue that the university actively discriminates against high-achieving Asian American applicants by claiming that a disproportionately large number of them have lackluster personalities. One obvious reaction to this charge is to denounce Harvard for its supposed double standards. This reaction might be especially appealing to those who see themselves as the sort of people who’d be dismissed by Harvard’s suspect screening process, and who’d thus have every reason to resent it. Viewed through an elite-eye lens, though, this sort of reaction can seem a little gauche. You’re saying, in a sense, that you can’t hack it—you just can’t crack the code. To a successful code-cracker, that could seem more than a little pathetic.

So what if you’re an Asian American who has already made the cut? In that case, you might celebrate Harvard’s wisdom in judiciously balancing its student body, or warn that Harvard’s critics have a darker, more ominous agenda that can’t be trusted. This establishes you as an insider, who gets that Harvard is doing the right thing, while allowing you to distance yourself from less-enlightened, and less-elite, people of Asian origin: You’re all being duped by evil lower-whites who don’t grok racial justice.

And if you’re an Asian American aspiring to make the cut, even with the deck stacked against you, you might eschew complaining in favor of doing everything in your power to cultivate the personal qualities Harvard wants most, or at least to appear to have done so. One straightforward way to demonstrate that you are Harvard material might be to denounce Harvard as racist, provided you’re careful to do so in a way that flatters rather than offends those who run the university and are invested in its continued success. For example, you might reject the notion that affirmative action is the problem while arguing that Harvard shouldn’t endeavor to increase representation of rural and working-class whites, on the spurious grounds that all whites are privileged. That you’ll make these claims even though you yourself are hardly among the most downtrodden is immaterial: The important thing is to be interesting. What better way to demonstrate that you’re not a humdrum worker bee, afflicted with a lackluster personality, than to carefully and selectively express the right kind of righteous indignation?

I certainly don’t mean to single out Harvard. As the senior assistant director of admissions at Yale recently observed, “for those students who come to Yale, we expect them to be versed in issues of social justice. We encourage them to be vocal when they see an opportunity for change in our institution and in the world.” Picture yourself as an eager high schooler reading these words, and then jotting down notes. You absorb, assuming you hadn’t already, what it takes to make your way in contemporary elite America. And as you grow older, you lean into the rhetorical gambits that served you so well in the past. You might even build a worldview out of them.

RTWT

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