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Gov 50 Students React to Allegations Against Instructor with Anger, Surprise

The offices of Harvard's Government Department are housed in CGIS Knafel.
The offices of Harvard's Government Department are housed in CGIS Knafel. By Kathryn S. Kuhar
By Juliet E. Isselbacher and Natalie L. Kahn, Crimson Staff Writers

UPDATED: September 30, 2020, 3:30 p.m.

After hearing allegations that Government instructor David D. Kane authored racist blog posts, Maria Keselj ’23 took to TikTok to condemn the blog posts as endorsing bigotry and white supremacy.

Keselj’s Saturday post on the popular video sharing app had racked up more than one hundred thousand views as of Sunday evening.

Keselj is one of dozens of Kane’s students enrolled in Harvard’s Government 50: “Data” course that have reacted to the allegations with an outpouring of rage and shock.

Students alleged that Kane authored the posts under the pseudonym “David Dudley Field ’25” on his website EphBlog and found that “Field” authored a post on the blog in 2014 that was signed “David Kane ’88.” Kane is a 1988 graduate of Williams College and founded EphBlog in 2003.

Blog posts by “Field” claim that 90 percent of Black students at Williams College would not have been admitted were it not for their “Black’ness” [sic] and reference “Black Supremacy” in the NBA. Another questions why Williams College condemned white supremacist group Identity Evropa without condemning the Black Lives Matter and Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movements.

Keselj, a Crimson editorial editor, said she publicized the content of the blog posts on TikTok because she felt it was “important for people to know.”

“I think a lot of people view academia as something where bigotry like this doesn't exist, especially in a place like Harvard that’s so widely renowned,” she explained. “A lot of people were really shocked about it. A lot of them were like, ‘How can we help? Is there any petition we can sign?’”

In addition to public criticism, some Gov 50 students and others are preparing a petition to demand Kane’s removal from his teaching roles in the Government department.

FAS Dean Claudine Gay announced that the Government department is currently reviewing the allegations against Kane after students wrote to her expressing concerns about the matter.

“We are looking into it now, and someone from my office will follow-up after we understand all of the details,” Gay wrote in a Friday email to students.

Kane did not respond to a request for comment on the student criticisms Sunday. He also did not respond to a previous request for comment asking whether he authored the posts and for his response to the allegations.

In a Friday email, Kane invited students who were uncomfortable remaining in his class to transfer to Government 51: “Data Analysis and Politics,” which is taught by a different instructor.

A number of his students have already expressed their intention to switch and department chair Jeffry Frieden wrote in a Sunday email to students in the class that they would not incur fees if they dropped the course or added another.

Keselj, who said she intends to transfer out of Gov 50, said she did not want to remain in the course and did not feel she could show Kane “even an ounce of respect.”

“I don't know how I could even look him in the eye over the web camera,” she said.

Other Gov 50 students, including Priscilla Agyen ’23, said they felt appalled after hearing about the allegations against Kane.

“I really looked up to him so I was really taken aback. I didn't want to believe it at first,” Agyen said.

Alexander K. Park ’23 also said he found the allegations “disturbing.”

“This was a person that, as a preceptor in this course, I had trusted with having at least a base respect for students and for everybody who was in his class,” Park added.

Park also said he felt Kane’s emailed response was “inadequate” noting that he did not respond to the allegations.

“It was definitely even more shocking to me that he would not have taken the kind of steps to apologize to his students for anybody he might have hurt,” Park said.

—Staff writer Juliet E. Isselbacher can be reached at juliet.isselbacher@thecrimson.com. Follow her on Twitter @julietissel.

—Staff writer Natalie L. Kahn can be reached at natalie.kahn@thecrimson.com.

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