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Staff Implies Determinism


By Noah Oppenheim

Implicit in the staff's opinion is the endorsement of a disturbing brand of gender and racial determinism--the editors adopt the view that race-based and sex-based characteristics set up virtually impenetrable barriers to understanding and identification, making it impossible for individuals to represent adeptly those of different backgrounds.

Such a dim view of the human capacity for flexibility is both unfortunate and unwarranted. Cultural and ethnic factors certainly do shape the beliefs, attitudes and experiences of all people--even Harvard students--but not to the radical, virtually inescapable extent to which the staff imagines.

The staff's position is also disturbing from a journalistic point of view. In discussing the Undergraduate Council, the opinion becomes mired in questions of proportionality, allowing its ideologically-driven argument to crowd out all further commentary.

In this move, the editors squander an early opportunity to draw attention to the substantive issues the council faces this term, opting instead to trot out an argument which is neither new nor informative.

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