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Preceptor David Kane to Temporarily Stop Lecturing in Gov 50

Harvard's Government department is housed in CGIS Knafel.
Harvard's Government department is housed in CGIS Knafel. By Michael Gritzbach
By Kevin R. Chen, Crimson Staff Writer

David D. Kane — Government preceptor and Government 50: “Data” instructor — and the class’s course staff jointly announced to students in a Sunday email that Kane will temporarily stop teaching lectures effective Tuesday.

“Starting this Tuesday (9/29) and for the foreseeable future, Gov 50 Lectures will now take place in individual TF-led sessions between each TF, a partner CA, and their recitation students,” the email read. “These lectures will be held in your TF’s usual Zoom room for recitations.”

“The lecture times will not change (7:30am / 12pm Tu-Th), and will follow the same structure of working on problems in breakout rooms,” it added. “All other components of the course, including recitations, will continue as normal. The only change would be in the format of the lectures.”

The staff proposed the changes to students in a Sunday afternoon email containing a survey, and they officially adopted the new course structure Sunday night after calculating that 89 percent of respondents who plan to remain in the course support the proposal. As of Sunday night, 85 students said they support the proposal, 11 students said they did not, and 10 said they plan to unenroll from Gov 50 no matter what the proposal is, according to the course staff’s message.

The announcement comes one day after several Gov 50 teaching fellows emailed their students Saturday proposing a boycott of course lectures taught by Kane. They wrote that 24 hours had passed, and Kane had not addressed the allegations that he authored racist posts on his website EphBlog over the course of several years under the pseudonym “David Dudley Field ’25.”

Kane denied endorsing white supremacy and anti-Blackness but did not reference the posts in a Friday response on a Gov 50 Slack channel obtained by The Crimson.

“I can assure you I do not endorse ‘white supremacy and anti-Blackness.’ Slack is probably not the best place for this conversation. I will send out some options to the whole class later today,” his message reads.

Kane did not respond to requests for comment from The Crimson on the allegations.

In their Saturday message to students, Gov 50 teaching fellows proposed to meet with students privately instead of in lectures to encourage the administration to identify a replacement for Kane.

“The teaching staff and I want to do what’s best for you, our students,” the teaching fellows wrote to their students Saturday. “None of us want to continue with DK. At the same time, we want to make sure you don’t feel that we are abandoning you.”

“We propose the following: We, the teaching staff, will continue meeting with you in private recitations,” the email continues. “We, the teaching staff, and you, the students, will collectively not be present for any lectures taught by DK. We hope this will put pressure on the administration who will be forced to find a replacement for him.”

Government department chair Jeffry A. Frieden called these messages “completely inappropriate” and “unprofessional” in a Sunday email to all Gov 50 students, hours after the staff proposed that Kane will no longer lecture for the time being.

“This message was completely inappropriate,” Frieden wrote. “The teaching staff does not have the right to instruct students to engage in any behavior other than that needed to fulfill course requirements. You are not required to boycott class; you are not required to put pressure on the administration. It was unprofessional for the teaching staff to presume the right to direct your decisions.”

Frieden wrote the Government Department is committed to ensuring academic continuity for students and supporting them whether they decide to stay in Gov 50 or transfer to Gov 51: “Data Analysis and Politics.”

The Registrar has waived the Add/Drop fees for Gov 50 and Gov 51, he added. The College ordinarily charges a $10 fee for students to add or drop a course between the third and fifth Mondays of the semester, according to the student handbook.

Frieden’s message did not directly mention Kane or the posts on EphBlog, referring instead to the “issues that have arisen.”

Some entries posted by “Field” on EphBlog make references to “Black Supremacy” in the NBA, claim that over 90 percent of Black students at Williams College would not have been admitted if it were not for their “Black’ness” [sic], and question Williams College’s condemnation of white supremacist group Identity Evropa without similar condemnation of the Black Lives Matter and Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movements.

“Field” authored a post on the blog in 2014 that was signed “David Kane ’88.” “David Dudley Field ’25” has been writing posts on EphBlog since 2003. Kane, a 1988 graduate of Williams College, founded EphBlog in 2003 for Williams affiliates, according to the website.

After a few weeks, the staff will evaluate the course and consider adding an option for students to attend lectures given by Kane, which would occur at the same time as the teaching fellows’ lectures, the staff’s Sunday announcement read.

—Staff writer Kevin R. Chen can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @kchenx.

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