The Red Line
Brasil Timber Limited, Empresas Verdes Argentina, and Scolopax—these sound like the names of corporations you might learn about in a course on “Globalization and Agriculture.” In fact, they’re all timber plantations that Harvard University fully owns.
It’s the first day of class after spring break. First-years are still giddy about their housing assignments; sophomores and juniors have started scoping out desirable suites for this spring’s room lottery. House pride at Harvard is real and strong. But what are the limitations of the House system—and what would happen if more students were to move off-campus?
In July 1971, Harvard psychology professor Richard J. Herrnstein penned an article for Atlantic Monthly titled “I.Q.” in which he endorsed the theories of UC Berkeley psychologist Arthur Jensen, who had claimed that intelligence is almost entirely hereditary and varies by race. Herrnstein further argued that because intelligence was hereditary, social programs intended to establish a more egalitarian society were futile—he wrote that “social standing [is] based to some extent on inherited differences among people.”
Over the break, something really important happened at Harvard Library. It didn’t get covered in The Crimson, or even in the Gazette, but Harvard Library changed its admittance rules so that children under 16 can enter Widener’s stacks when accompanied by an adult with a Harvard ID. I want to tell the story of how this happened, because I think it illustrates something important about Harvard, institutional momentum, scholarship, and motherhood.
Mia You, a graduate student in English at the University of California at Berkeley, lives in Cambridge with her family, including her baby daughter. About a year ago, You walked into Widener Library to do research for a review of a new edition of “Little Women.” She planned to get a few books from the stacks—but was told, as she swiped her library card at the stack entrance, that she couldn’t enter: her baby daughter was strapped to her chest, and children under 16 are not allowed in the stacks.