Faculty Cancel Controversial Summer School Instructor's Courses, Debate Reaction to 'Occupy'

At meeting focusing on free speech, some professors chastise Faust for closing gates, and most vote to remove Subramanian Swamy's courses

Page 2 of 2

Swamy received significant criticism for an op-ed he wrote last summer in the Indian newspaper Daily News and Analysis, in which he called for the destruction of mosques, the disenfrachisement of non-Hindus in India who do not acknowledge Hindu ancestry, and a ban on conversion from Hinduism.

“Swamy’s op-ed clearly crosses the line by demonizing an entire religious community and calling for violence against their sacred places,” Eck said, adding that Harvard has a moral responsibility not to affiliate itself with anyone who expresses hatred towards a minority group. “There is a distinction between unpopular and unwelcome political views.”

Although Harvard chose to stand by Swamy in August in an effort to affirm its declared commitment to free speech, faculty members shot down his two courses, effectively removing him from Harvard’s teaching roster. Many faculty determined Swamy’s article was not a product of free speech—but of hate speech.

“[Swamy’s position on disenfranchisement] is like saying Jewish Americans and African Americans should not be allowed to vote unless they acknowledge the supremacy of white Anglo Saxon Protestants,” said History Professor Sugata Bose.

Dean of the Summer School Donald H. Pfister explained that courses included in the catalog are chosen by individual departments.

“I find [Swamy’s] position reprehensible, but on the other hand, it is our duty to support departments and their offerings,” he said.

Philosophy Department Chair Sean D. Kelly, who also serves as vice-chair of the Faculty Docket Committee, initially defended the unanimous decision of Harvard’s Faculty Council to keep Swamy on the teaching roster as an effort to preserve free speech at the school and kick the vote to the faculty-wide meeting.

Kelly ultimately voted—as did an overwhelming majority of faculty members—for the amendment to remove Swamy’s courses. The revised catalog was consequently approved.

“I was persuaded ... that the views expressed in Dr. Swamy’s op-ed piece amounted to incitement of violence instead of protected political speech,” he wrote in an email to The Crimson.

HUIT CHUGS FORWARD

Launched this July as a newly integrated network of Harvard’s two major IT systems—FAS IT and University IT—Harvard University Information Technology has already upgraded Harvard’s iSites platform and expanded the FAS standing committee on IT.

“The students and faculty this year were served much more seamlessly by a single team,” Margulies said.

HUIT is poised to implement four new initiatives “devoted to fixing things that are broken while keeping the trains running on time,” she said.

On Wednesday, HUIT is launching a new student information system that will streamline the enrollment processes for students across the University. HUIT is also working on a common identity management system, collaborative efforts with the library system to increase web access to library resources, and the support of innovative teaching practices through the use of video, Margulies said.

In response to one question about difficulties experienced by faculty members during migration between email interfaces, Margulies said that HUIT is working with Google to address security issues.

“We’re hoping in the future we may be able to offer Gmail as an option for faculty,” she said.

—Staff writer Radhika Jain can be reached at radhikajain@college.harvard.edu.

—Staff writer Kevin J. Wu can be reached at kwu@college.harvard.edu.

Tags

Recommended Articles