Linguistics Nightmares


Stephen E. Frank's opinion piece "Follow the Money" (Feb. 2, 1994) mentions in passing the proposed elimination of the Linguistics Department as an example of a money conflict within the University. Would that it were so.

If the issue were something as concrete as budgetary problems, it could be addressed using national arguments and objective data. We who oppose the elimination of linguistics at Harvard could marshal facts, figures, tables and statistics to support our position. But we have no such luck. In fact, a member of the committee to "restructure" (read: eliminate) the Department promised me that the move has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with money.

Instead, we get vague half-truths, statements made by one administrator and then retracted by another, deans who say something to a student and then deny that they ever made such a statement, and unsolicited defamatory letters written about students to potential employers by administrators who have never met the students and know nothing about their work. And yet we are told that they have our best interests at heart.

The administration's underhandedness has put such a bitter taste in my mouth that I wonder if they shouldn't award an anti-Ford Foundation Grant to discourage undergraduates from entering academia. Various deans and committees have turned me from an eager potential scholar into a disillusioned cynic in just one year. Is this the Harvard legacy the administrators want to leave me? I hope they think about this at night when they're trying to go to sleep. I know I do. Ron Fein '94