Look what happens when you give social justice warriors free rein
When it became clear that faculty might vote to overturn Harvard’s punitive rules against members of single-sex organizations such as final clubs, the university created a faculty review committee rather than suffer an embarrassing defeat.
Some people thought it was purely “window dressing,” a way for Harvard to make professors feel like they had a say when they really didn’t.
The administration would still get what it wanted, the thinking went: the blacklisting of club members from elite fellowships (like the Rhodes) and leadership roles on athletic teams and student organizations.
But it looks like the faculty review committee might actually serve as a useful check on even worse recommendations coming from the implementation committee that made the original recommendations.
The Harvard Crimson reports that the implementation committee now wants to ban fraternity, sorority and final-club members from “several more post-graduate fellowships,” not just those requiring the dean’s recommendation.
It’s also refusing to give out copies of the new recommendations, probably anticipating that they would go viral very quickly:
Implementation committee members did not receive copies of the report, developed over the course of last semester, according to several members of the body. Rather, committee co-chairs Douglas A. Melton and Kay K. Shelemay printed copies of the document and placed them in University Hall. Members traveled to the building at select times earlier this month to physically examine the report and offer feedback.
This is similar to the protocol by which members of Congress can review classified material, so you get a sense of how important this committee thinks it is.
But it’s not just post-graduate fellowships the committee wants to put off-limits:
In another section of the group’s final report, the implementation committee recommended that The Crimson and the Undergraduate Council be subject to the College’s policy, according to the three committee members. Such a step would aim to bar members of final clubs and Greek organizations from holding leadership positions on either The Crimson or the UC.
In other words: This big-headed committee is so determined to snuff out men and women spending time with their own kind, which is allegedly sexist and elitist, that it will destroy democracy and a free press on campus.
— The Harvard Crimson (@thecrimson) February 28, 2017
In earlier eras Harvard tried to out gay men and communists, and now it’s using the same tactics against people who like the platonic company of their own sex, writes FIRE’s Ryne Weiss:
[W]e really wish we could stop covering this car wreck. Unfortunately, Harvard keeps driving towards the wall.
He also notes the classified hush-hush procedure, and muses how the committee would even enforce these proposed rules against final clubs:
Maybe by calling the programs and warning them that the student applying had committed the unforgivable crime of throwing a “Headbands for Hope” charity fundraiser with Kappa Kappa Gamma? …
What is more democratic than a secret, authoritarian body telling you who you can’t vote for? There’s nothing troubling about that at all!
The committee’s new recommendations are also a slap in the face to Dean of the College Rakesh Khurana, a tinpot dictator who nevertheless had earlier promised The Crimson – which is totally separate from Harvard – that its leaders wouldn’t be ensnared by the rules:
To sum it up: Harvard administrators would purport to dictate who could lead an independent student newspaper, who students could vote for in their student government, and who could hire graduates of the university.
Harvard’s erratic behavior over the past month – creating the faculty review committee only two days after the implementation committee gave its (secret) final report to Khurana – makes more sense now, Weiss says:
Harvard was afraid that the new sanctions-on-steroids regime would leak to faculty, students, the public, and FIRE, and profoundly damage the regime’s public support. Harvard calculated that if it could keep the details secret until the last possible minute, it would give students and faculty too little time to do anything about it. And Harvard administrators really, really do not like embarrassing leaks. We’re talking a “we’ll-inspect-faculty-members’-emails-without-their-knowledge” level of hating leaks. …
It seems extremely unlikely that Dean Khurana just coincidentally announced the new panel two days after he was handed these recommendations. He probably saw these recommendations, was aghast, realized the faculty vote was nigh and that they would never go for this, and got a new group.
With this huge embarrassment stemming from her own illiberal impulses, maybe Harvard President Drew Faust will finally decide to zip her lips on how freedom of association is just another way of saying Jim Crow.
IMAGE: The Dictator, Christopher Michel/Flickr