Troubling Lack Of Ethics
The demise of the Harvard Semitic Museum as an institution bringing exhibits of cultural and historical relevance to the attention of the community is a loss to be mourned. While I am saddened very much by this decision of the University, I am even more astonished and chagrined by the process used to dismantle an institution that has been a symbol of learning and cooperation for Christians, Jews and Moslems for 13 years.
I am most troubled by one incident that occurred. It has been reported in several publications and acknowledged by Professor Stager himself that he, a chaired professor at Harvard University, took a cartridge from a facsimile machine used to transmit museum and departmental correspondence. From this he was able to replicate all the private correspondence transmitted by this machine. This action is despicable and unethical.
Under Derek Bok's presidency, Harvard University made a public commitment to increase its teaching and research in ethics. To date, Harvard has accepted the unethical behavior by a tenured professor at Harvard, who is also the individual personally elected by the Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences to perform an objective and independent review of the Semitic Museum. If this acquiescence continues, Harvard will have acknowledged that it is willing to "talk" about ethics, but is unwilling to "walk the talk" and hold itself to the standards preached in its classroom, public pronouncements, and reteach publications. Harvard, by its silence, has condoned this behavior. I would like to think that the University holds itself to a higher ethical standard than that displayed by Professor Stager, and that in fact the University has a moral responsibility to make sure that employees of the university adhere to the acceptable standards of behavior the school alleges to promote in its teaching and research programs.