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Letters to the Editor

By Connor M. Harris and Mary D. Lewis

To the editor:

I am disappointed that The Crimson has not apologized for but instead continues to defend its juvenile editorial warning conservatives not to enroll at Harvard. Although The Crimson claims that the article’s purpose was to highlight the hypocrisy among alumni who wish to “score political points by maligning Harvard,” the article fails to actually make this argument.

Instead, The Crimson explicitly warns conservatives to stay away from Cambridge on the grounds that students who are critical of Harvard should “neither apply, enroll, nor graduate from this fine institution.” The article’s logic is embarrassing, and the belittling and disparagement of conservative students is repugnant.

The editorial rests on the false assumptions that solely conservative students disagree with the University and that dissent is inherently problematic. There are countless examples of Harvard’s liberal students and alumni expressing discontent with the University. By its own logic, The Crimson’s message should also apply to Al Gore, who has praised the student campaign challenging the University’s investment in fossil fuels. Furthermore, the editors surely recognize that criticism can play a valuable role in righting wrongs. They certainly wouldn’t condemn alumni who disagreed and criticized Harvard for its past exclusion of women and minorities and much less deem them “episodes of treachery.” As a Hispanic female, I might not be studying at Harvard today were it not for vocal critics of past Harvard policies.

Perhaps the most arrogant and disrespectful claim in the article is the characterization of conservatives as “anti-intellectual.” The name-calling itself reveals the real anti-intellectualism at Harvard. It is not typically found among its conservatives, whose ideas and arguments are sharpened by constant scrutiny and criticism. Rather, it is found in the intolerance toward conservatives on campus and in the failure to engage the arguments and principles that guide conservative beliefs.

In this respect, this editorial is not an outlier, but only the most brazen recent example of the preference for mindless bullying over authentic discussion. Many of Harvard’s students recognize the value and necessity of intellectual diversity, but it is discouraging to see that our campus’s newspaper does not.

In a few weeks, students from across the globe will find out whether they have been accepted into Harvard’s Class of 2017. I urge The Crimson to reconsider its welcome message. Conservatives remain an integral part of Harvard, and they are encouraged to apply and enroll.

Luciana E. Milano ’14

Cambrdge, Mass.

To the editor:

I teach an upper-level undergraduate statistics class, Statistics 123: “Applied Quantitative Finance on Wall Street,” which has averaged an enrollment of approximately 100 students a term. The course is substantive and difficult (I demand Statistics 110: “Introduction to Probability” as a prerequisite), introduces subtle and elegant theory, and challenges students to tackle new ways of thinking. The midterm and final exams (closed-book, proctored) are demanding and stretch students’ mastery of the material.

In my class I have met varsity football players, computer science prodigies, a gifted conductor now at Juilliard, a European math Olympiad finalist, writers for The Crimson, cross country runners, violinists, golf stars, and fencers, among a wide range of Harvard students.

These students all share the drive and motivation to add knowledge, to understand the subtleties of complex concepts, and to tackle difficult topics head on. They do not want to shirk the acquisition of knowledge for an easy grade. Rather, they are motivated to master the most challenging material they can, and they take delight in their own intellectual progress. It is an unqualified joy to teach such students and to see them respond to and engage with demanding subject matter.

There is much we can all do better. But let us not be afraid to say, clearly and loudly, “academics flourish at Harvard.”

Stephen Blyth

Cambridge, Mass.

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