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Garber’s Tenure, Two Months In: The Editors React


By Michael Gritzbach

At the open of this semester, not yet a month after University President Claudine Gay’s historic resignation, we asked our editors for their reflections on some of the most tumultuous months in Harvard’s recent history.

After the chaos of Gay’s short tenure, a major goal of interim President Alan M. Garber ’76 has been to restore stability to the University, repair its reputation, and keep Harvard out of the news cycle.

How has his administration fared? Two months on from the shock of January, as the University searches for the path through the challenges of the past six months, we asked our editors to revisit their January reflections, offering fresh thoughts on where Harvard stands today.

How have your feelings about Harvard and the controversies that garnered it widespread national media attention changed since the beginning of the semester?

As the dust has cleared this semester, I’m left feeling, at once, scared and hopeful.

Scared, because I worry that the opponents of higher education have crossed the Rubicon. Because I don’t know if people on campus and beyond are quite grasping how unprecedented and truly dangerous it is for members of Congress to subpoena leaders of universities for reasons that are, to me, transparently self-interested and pretextual. Because I know those attacks will proliferate and worsen.

Hopeful, because I think the criticisms, however distorted and ill-intentioned, have a kernel of truth, and because people who matter at Harvard are recognizing it. Harvard’s built a nanny state that shelters and coddles students. It’s sleep-walked into far too great a degree of institutional non-neutrality. It’s embraced box-checking, ineffectual DEI practices that feed a worrisome culture of censoriousness and do nothing to address real inequities in admissions, hiring, and beyond.

I hesitate to call this witch hunt a wake-up call, because I don’t believe the witch hunters deserve credit. But I have a feeling — an insistent, perhaps-naive hope — that one day we may look back and call this the moment that Harvard righted the ship.

If a meaningfully independent Harvard survives, that is.

—Tommy Barone ’25, a Crimson Editorial Chair, is a Social Studies concentrator in Currier House.

The controversy of the last several months has sparked renewed discussion about essential issues at Harvard, such as academic freedom and institutional neutrality. I welcome these conversations eagerly — our community faces a unique opportunity to reimagine our vision for Harvard, and we must rise to the occasion.

However, I fear severe consequences if we confuse legitimate and sincere criticisms of our University for condemnation levied by ill-intentioned actors. The heightened and transparently malicious attacks on DEI at Harvard are deeply alarming. And while I am under no illusions that DEI is perfect — far from it — rhetoric that paints DEI as inherently antithetical to free speech or ideological diversity is flawed and has concerning implications.

Academic freedom and the values of diversity, equity, and inclusion are not mutually exclusive. Indeed, if we hope to build a better Harvard, we must do nothing short of vocally and zealously championing both.

—E. Matteo Diaz ’27, a Crimson Editorial Editor, lives in Grays Hall.

In January, it felt like Harvard’s leadership crisis would never end. But curiosity waned and headlines slowed. The flames of controversy, stoked by the public, dwindled.

Harvard must move forward confidently, but just because the limelight has shifted does not mean that criticisms can go unheeded. Just the embers now remain, but a long, slow process of renewal is upon us.

—McKenna E. McKrell ’26, an Associate Editorial editor, is a Classics concentrator in Adams House.

Garber’s administration has done a good job beginning the work of repairing Harvard’s reputation. Anecdotally, Harvard has been in the news less (though they hardly could have been in it more).

The interim president has traveled to repair relationships with alumni, taken accountability for Harvard’s word-salad responses to the Oct. 7 invasion, and affirmed his commitment to fighting antisemitism on campus.

While his actions may have restored a sense of stability to the University, his work is far from over.

I can’t help but be puzzled by the rash of unsavory stories revolving around the University — the morgue cadaver controversy or professor Francesca Gino’s alleged research misconduct both come to mind.

For the University’s reputation to again shine unsullied, everyone — from morgue managers to top-ranking professors — must get their act together, led by a steady-handed and practically-minded president. Let’s hope it happens, both for Harvard’s and for higher education’s sake.

—Max A. Palys ’26, an Associate Editorial editor, is a double concentrator in Mathematics and East Asian Studies in Currier House.

After the first few months of Garber’s term, campus has felt slightly calmer. Now that Gay’s critics have received what they fought for — her resignation — it feels that there is now less of a focus on what is occurring on our campus. However, as Congress persists with their antisemitism investigation, I wonder how on-campus dynamics will continue to evolve throughout this year.

—Jasmine N. Wynn ’27, a Crimson Editorial editor, lives in Thayer Hall.

Harvard’s media attention may have mostly subsided, but the underlying issues that invited public scrutiny have hardly gone away.

The antisemitism that exists within progressive spaces — painting Jews as white oppressors and colonizers — still certainly exists within pockets of Harvard. It was this millenia-old hatred that manifested in the now-infamous antisemitic cartoon posted by student groups, and reposted by a faculty organization (the groups have since apologized). It was this attitude that led to a now-canceled panel on antisemitism moderated by a scholar who bragged about his score on a “Zionist or Nazi?” quiz. And it was this hatred that led to posters of hostages being defaced and taken down by Harvard employees.

President Garber’s savviness may save Harvard from the media circus that subsumed it last semester, but it will not be the silver bullet solution to Harvard’s deeper problems.

—Jacob M. Miller ’25, a Crimson Editorial Chair, is a Mathematics concentrator in Lowell House.

Undoubtedly, the headline-attracting, hectic, and outrage-generating nature of last semester has waned under the term of President Garber.

While Harvard still faces a congressional investigation from House Republicans, the University’s president is not under constant scrutiny.

This is positive. It marks a shift in national media attention away from every action on campus. But, it demonstrates a potential pitfall. As Harvard moves out of the spotlight, I worry the University may move away from its defense of minority scholars and the fundamental practice of DEI to limit outside criticism.

Rather than conform to the wishes of our critics, the University must ensure the unfair treatment of Gay is not inflicted upon another Harvard president.

History will look back on this moment. We must be on offense — not merely defense — and protect our fundamental values.

—M. Austen Wyche ’27, a Crimson Editorial editor, lives in Canaday Hall.

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