Lobbying for the Next Lobbyist

The next Harvard president must prioritize the needs of students, especially in today’s political era.

It is clear that Harvard—as a university and as a group of people—is affected by the political issues of the day. We believe it is of great importance for Harvard’s presidential search committee to actively consider the ability of any successor to University President Drew G. Faust to lobby on political issues, primarily those affecting the Harvard student body, as one of their primary characteristics for selection. Harvard may be going through a presidential shift, but it is not likely that the country will be doing the same.

We also ask that the search committee find someone who will continue, if not ramp up, efforts to put the needs of students first. Harvard is an institution that accepts students from all over the world with a diverse range of interests, some are of whom are especially vulnerable under this Trump administration. The next president should be able to guarantee resources and protection for all students regardless of their background.

In particular, we urge the presidential search committee to find a president who will continue its commitment to immigrant rights. Given that Harvard accepts students regardless of immigration statuses and that this administration has threatened students and their families with travel bans restricting members of the Harvard community, the University must do its part to stand up for their rights. We have seen the support for undocumented students as their futures remain uncertain.

Our students are supposed to be students first. They should not have to worry about whether or not they or their families will be able to stay or be allowed into this country.

Moreover, we call on the future president to continue to push for the best educational opportunities for students. In light of the amount of funding that Harvard receives from the government, as well as the threat to its continuation, it is clear research funding will remain—as it should—an important focus of Harvard’s D.C. lobbying efforts.

Finally, we believe presidential search committee must find a president who will continue the commitment to diversity at Harvard. We have seen the University come under attack directly on matters of affirmative action with lawsuits and threats from the Department of Justice. Administrators should do their part, in Cambridge and in Washington, to ensure that students do not have to question their place at Harvard.

We recognize the limits to the President’s lobbying power as the head of a non-profit organization, but we know that there are many efforts that can be taken on in the name of our students. Past presidents and Faust have made advocacy a priority and devoted significant resources to it. Indeed, Faust has been especially active since Trump came into office as she has rightly recognized the threats posed by this administration. This is the time for Harvard to be active in shaping the policies of our nation as best as it can, not the time for it to retreat into the Ivory Tower of academia.

This staff editorial solely represents the majority view of The Crimson Editorial Board. It is the product of discussions at regular Editorial Board meetings. In order to ensure the impartiality of our journalism, Crimson editors who choose to opine and vote at these meetings are not involved in the reporting of articles on similar topics.

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