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Former dean: Harvard’s ‘weaponization of inclusion is the most sanctimonious exercise’ on campus

Harry Lewis is reading The College Fix!

At least that’s what I surmised from reading a recent blog post by the former dean of Harvard College, who remains a computer science professor and lonely defender of freedom of association at the Ivy League university.

Lewis said he got an email from an alum who asked him about the school’s planned punishment of single-sex club members (at the very least), against which Lewis has crusaded, while Harvard “puts on this workshop”:

He linked to some stories about the workshop on anal sex being offered during Harvard Sex Week. (Check the Tuesday evening schedule.)

Yes, that wonderful “What What in the Butt” workshop during “the best week of your life” that is one of our most shared stories of the year.

But this is just Lewis’s platform for asking Harvard to reconsider its intellectual consistency as he notes dryly that some donors “are redirecting their annual donations accordingly”:

It is sad and strange that many 18 to 22 year olds are no more knowledgeable about sex than their parents or grandparents were. That said, it is a reasonable question whether this particular form of educational programming should be a high priority. …

What I hate is our pretense of moral superiority. The weaponization of “inclusion” is the most sanctimonious exercise I can remember at Harvard, and that is saying something in a place never known for its humility.

MORE: Harvard hosts anal sex workshop

The professor continues that he is “tired of being told that students who want to live their private lives as they wish are bad people,” such as the young women who are the biggest losers in Harvard’s crusade against gender affinity:

On how many occasions over the past two years have deans, presidents, and faculty members lectured opponents of the single-gender ban on the basis that being a member of a single-gender club was inconsistent with Harvard’s deepest values? …

Nobody has to go to the anal sex workshop. It is “inclusive,” because anyone can go to it. “Exclusive” means that you are not allowed to go, like a sorority. No matter that no Harvard man has ever wanted to join any sorority. They are exclusive! They are at odds with our deepest values! They are all these terrible things that the anal sex workshop is not. The anal sex workshop is inclusive! The Women’s Center is inclusive, because all genders are welcome! Kappa is bad because it excludes men! Don’t you get it? …
Do we really think that conservative Christians, Muslims, and Jews feel fully included in the Harvard of Sex Week?

Lewis really goes on a tear here:

I object strongly to the shameless hypocrisy of using exclusivity as a rationale for banning students from single gender organizations, on the basis that what those organizations stand for is offensive and makes some students feel they don’t belong here. Those organizations are important to other students, and those who don’t like them should learn to ignore them. 

The point in working through this example is that not everyone—in fact, no one—can feel fully comfortable all the time in any institution where different people have different ideas, wants, and needs. It is impossible to achieve ubiquitous belonging in an institution that values learning, that expects students to grow and change. 

It is argued that intellectual discomfort is good, but students should never feel out of place because of their identity. Sex Week exposes the lie in that argument. The discomfort allegedly felt by women who can’t get into men’s clubs, or the nonexistent men who are turned away from women’s clubs—these parallel the discomfort of religiously conservative students who have to live with the Sex Week hoopla.

Read his full post if you want to see Lewis savage the procedure by which Harvard’s outgoing president is marginalizing freedom of association and student opinion, while ensuring that “regular order has been completely ignored.”

MORE: Cowardly professors refuse to oppose anti-male rules at Harvard

IMAGE: Harvard Sex Week

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About the Author
Associate Editor
Greg spent several years as a technology policy reporter and editor for Warren Communications News in Washington, D.C., and guest host on C-SPAN’s “The Communicators.” Previously he led media and public relations at Seattle’s Discovery Institute, a free-market think tank. Greg is developing a Web series about a college newspaper, COPY, whose pilot episode was a semifinalist in the TV category for the Scriptapalooza competition in 2012. He graduated in 2001 with a B.A. from Seattle Pacific University, where he co-founded the alternative newspaper PUNCH and served as a reporter, editor and columnist for The Falcon.

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