Saturday, February 3, 2024
And perhaps that’s Sherri Charleston’s position as well. Dr. Charleston, Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer at Harvard, has recently been accused of plagiarizing parts of her 2009 dissertation and a 2014 scholarly article published in the Journal of Negro Education. Gay and Charleton are both African American women, and both saw their careers blossom as American universities embraced Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI).
What do these two scandals tell us about DEI in higher education? First, DEI is an industry that has nothing to do with scholarship. DEI administrators are political officers, not academics. Harvard did not place Gay and Charleston in elevated positions because they have records of outstanding scholarship; they got their jobs because they had the credentials that would help Harvard advance its DEI agenda.
Second, DEI is a career path that is only open to racial minorities. If you scan the higher education landscape, you will find that the universities have hundreds of DEI administrators. I’ll buy you lunch at the Stockyard restaurant in North Baton Rouge if you can identify even one heterosexual white male in a DEI position.
Finally, the proliferation of DEI administrators has not promoted racial harmony on American college campuses. On the contrary, our nation has seen a shocking outbreak of antisemitism on university campuses in recent months—shocking enough to prompt Congress to hold hearings on the phenomenon. On the whole, the DEI commissars are indifferent to racism against Jews, as evidenced by Claudine Gay’s remarkably nuanced and legalistic response when she was asked whether calls for "genocide of Jews" violated Harvard’s policies on bullying and harassment.
In the coming months, we will see more scandals erupt as critics scan the academic credentials of university DEI officers. These scandals will show that the colleges don’t give a damn about their DEI apparatchiks' scholarly records. Sherri Charleston, for example, has been accused of plagiarizing passages in her dissertation from a book written by Professor Rebecca J. Scott, who co-chaired Charleston’s dissertation committee. Presumably, Professor Scott read Charleston’s dissertation drafts. It's odd, don’t you think, that Scott apparently didn’t realize that part of what she was reading came from her own book!
Saturday, January 6, 2024
Ali got the line wrong. Actually, the aphorism goes: “Harvard is never having to say you’re sorry.”
Claudine Gay, the first black woman to serve as Harvard's president, stepped down a few days ago; Gay was unable to weather a storm of controversy around her equivocal response to a question about anti-Semitism at her university and by credible allegations of plagiarism in her dissertation and other scholarly publications.
Don’t cry for me, Argentina. Gay will resume her job as a tenured Harvard faculty member, earning almost $900,000 a year--close to what she made as Harvard's president. Good wages for a scholar with a skimpy publication record and serious charges of plagiarism.
Nobody apologized. Gay said she stood by the integrity of her scholarship and said her downfall was driven, at least partly, by “racial animus.” Harvard professors who supervised Gay's Harvard dissertation did not apologize for missing plagiarized passages in her dissertation draft. She would undoubtedly have corrected the errors if her advisors had caught them.
As I said, Harvard is never having to say you’re sorry It just blunders along, year after weary year, sucking in money from billionaires who do not know what to do with their wealth, spouting platitudes about diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Harvard Law School hired Elizabeth Warren as a professor, no doubt because she claimed to be partly native American--a Cherokee, to be precise. That assertion proved false, but Warren retained her post at Harvard. In fact, she sailed on to become a U.S. senator and even had the temerity to run for president.
Harvard will weather the little storm kicked up by President Gay. Its endowment may suffer a bit, but the university has $60 billion in endowment money. Harvard professors can wipe their asses with $100 bills from the endowment fund, and Harvard will never run out of money.
Harvard's reputation may suffer a bit, but thousands of young people still want to attach their name to a Harvard diploma. I was one of those people and foolishly spent three years at Harvard to get a doctoral degree. It wasn’t worth much.
As others have said, Americans should stop believing that Harvard is the acme of scholarly intelligence. Harvard does not maintain rigorous standards; ninety percent of its undergraduates complete their degreeswith honors. Harvard claims to be urgently concerned about discrimination and prejudice against underprivileged minorities. Still, it has shown itself to be little more than a haven for anti-Semites and race baiters.
I regret the years I spent at Harvard. I regret the money that I borrowed to pay Harvard tuition. I regret the stresses on my family brought on by my ill-advised decision to leave the lovely state of Alaska, where I was making a good living, to wallow at a sordid university in the dirty and inhospitable town of Cambridge. Indeed, I found Harvard, Cambridge, and the greater Boston area to be provincial, bigoted, and willfully ignorant about how the real world works.
Tuesday, December 5, 2023
I wish I were a billionaire who had given a pot of money to Harvard University. I would write Harvard a stern public letter rebuking its anemic response to anti-Jewish bigotry by Harvard students. I would vow not to give the university one more dime. A few billionaires have taken that action.
Indeed, there is strong evidence that antisemitism lurks in the shadows on Harvard's musty campus. Adrian Ahkenazy, a Harvard alum, and a Harvard Jewish Alumni Association co-founder, wrote an op-ed essay in the New York Post a few days ago, noting that there are fewer Jewish students and faculty at Harvard than in years past. "Among many saddening discoveries," he wrote, "we see that Jews have been purged across campus--from the administration and the Board of Supervisors to the faculty and the student body." Jewish students comprise only 5 percent of the Harvard student body, down from more than 20 percent at the turn of the twentieth century.
In an open letter to the Harvard community, Harvard's president implicitly admitted that antisemitism is a problem at the university. President Claudine Gay wrote that Harvard is "seeking to identify
external partnerships that will allow Harvard to learn from and work with
others on our strategy [to combat antisemitism]." To me, it sounds like Harvard plans to hire some
consultants to study anti-Jewish bigotry until people forget about it.
I am not a billionaire
and have never given Harvard any money (besides my tuition). How can I
effectively express my contempt for Harvard's closet antisemitism?
I have a Harvard doctoral
degree, which I could publicly burn as a protest of Harvard's cowardice and
closet bigotry. I also purchased a crimson academic gown for my Harvard
graduation ceremony in 1993. I could burn that, too.
However, I will not set my diploma or academic
regalia ablaze. I don't believe in setting things on fire to express
my political convictions. In any event, I don't think anything I might say
or do would get Harvard’s attention. After all, I live in Flyover Country.
How do ordinary people censor
an elite university trafficking in prestige while marinating in bigotry and moral
cowardice? We can begin by deconstructing Harvard's image as the epitome of
intellectual and moral superiority.
Many Americans believe that
Harvard people are more intelligent and more morally sensitive than the rest of
us. Having spent some time at Harvard, I can tell you that legend is untrue.
There are some smart people at Harvard, but most Harvardians are no more
intelligent than your favorite handyman or plumber.
Perhaps William F. Buckley
said it best: “I'd rather entrust the government of the United
States to the first 400 people listed in the Boston telephone directory than to
the faculty of Harvard University.”