Perhaps that's the main takeaway from the commencement debacle: It’s bittersweet. Our university makes the right call in postponing the ceremony but offers no specifics or details to encourage our understandably let down seniors. It invites a brilliant, forward-thinking speaker, yet does not follow her example in its own backyard. Harvard cannot let these gestures be empty promises.
Harvard must be political, and the spending practices of an institution are inherently political. The institutions and people that the University chooses to take its donations from, spend its money on, or invest its savings in, matter and mean much. But throwing Harvard money around Capitol Hill is not always our most effective advocacy strategy.
This intoxicating step towards decriminalization, in all earnestness, is a move that we wholeheartedly support. Amongst our nation’s most disgraceful injustices is our unmatched rate of incarceration. With dozens of states imprisoning more individuals than entire countries, the need to implement swift, sweeping reforms — to pacify this raging war — is both burning and imperative.
College tuition is stupidly expensive and rising too fast. No policy approach that fails to reckon with this basic fact will prove sufficiently transformative in the long run. That doesn’t mean student debt forgiveness isn’t worthwhile — public policy can prove incredibly life-changing to specific individuals while leaving the broader system intact — but rather, that it simply isn’t enough.
This unprecedented moment has ultimately drawn much-needed attention and interest in studying education and working to enhance equity, innovation, and care within the classroom. After years of grappling with educational issues in the lecture hall, there is no doubt that Merseth’s digital classroom would have been the ideal place to pursue such inquiries. Now, the absence of such a space has placed undue boundaries upon students’ ability to engage with the challenges of this all-encompassing period; in doing so, it has severely undercut the gravity of the moment.
In the specific case of the Cambridge community, we celebrate the progress made by the council but, as usual, push for more. As the city continues to develop long-term options for housing, we encourage them to amplify the voices of unhoused individuals in order to best address their needs, acknowledging that each residents’ circumstances will be unique to them and that their lived experiences will be crucial to informing good policy.
Understanding the historical context and lives of these individuals is essential, and we are pleased by the committee’s commitment to actively exploring the presentation and handling of these sensitive remains. Firmly solidifying our faith, too, is the fact that the committee’s plans don’t stop with a singular, albeit important, examination of these remains. The committee has instead embedded broader, actionable plans within their mission, promising to develop comprehensive policies on the “collection, display, and ethical stewardship” of human remains. Undertakings like these actively widen the committee's task to determining what the right thing to do, if any, with these remains is.
In sum, the Harvard community appears to be plagued by a culture of apathy towards sexual assault that is only worsened when professors in high positions are able to leverage their accolades over their offenses. The administration tends to turn a blind eye to professors’ sexual misconduct until it becomes too big of a problem to ignore. How can we actively fight those trends, beyond simply bureaucratic reorganization?
So, perhaps Kushner and Berkowitz’s efforts in crafting the Abraham Accords are worthy of such high-level recognition – but can the same be said for Kushner and Berkowitz themselves? More broadly, in considering who deserves such attention and esteem, should we only probe singular, isolated actions? Or must we instead turn towards a more leveled exploration – a nuanced interrogation of all that they have championed, advocated, and accomplished?
The University clearly acknowledges that its actions carry weight, yet eschews this espoused responsibility by continuing to take incremental approaches to an existential crisis. Harvard can truly be influential by demonstrating how the university with the largest endowment in the world can invest it responsibly.
Given the complexity of the moment, we do not expect there to be any “perfect” vaccination plan, and unfortunately, it seems Covid’s exacerbation of inequality will deeply impact who is protected from it first. But we should not let the perfect become the enemy of the good. So long as the University is committed to vaccinating as many affiliates as possible, the community and the world will benefit.
We are not disputing the importance of economics as a discipline, nor do we mean to disparage anyone’s individual career or concentration choices. But we do feel the need to lay plain that Economics doesn’t reign supreme because it represents an inherently superior path to that offered by any other concentration — believing so would be antithetical to the very core of the liberal arts education.
Marginal improvements to the eating experience aren’t worth embracing a business that, in its seeming pursuit of a utopian eating experience, puts being an employer last. Waiting in line for a meal (or better yet, calling ahead) isn’t that bad, but heralding the arrival of a Harvard Square business that, long term, will likely employ fewer people than nearly any other restaurant would, is.
Both the essay and the Subject Tests invoked simmering pressure and seething stress, and they loaded students with an additional financial burden that their families oftentimes struggled to carry; clearly, these tests won’t be missed. Still, the college application process remains remarkably tainted, and much work remains if the College Board is to truly help make college admissions more inclusive, accessible, and reasonable.
But reality falls short of such cherished myths. A connection to our University — or to any of our peer institutions — does signal a high level of expertise, not least because of its world-class research centers and facilities. But it hardly ensures a range of abilities so exceptional and unmatched by the rest of the population to warrant our grotesque overrepresentation at the top of the political sphere.
Part of what drove us to this point — part of why a cornerstone of American democracy found itself collapsed by violence — was the lack of sharp, unambiguous censure of the president's conduct by elected officials and social media platforms. So let us be perfectly clear: we unequivocally condemn the insurrection and its perpetrators.
Our classrooms are part of a broader world, and the conversations we have in them bear on that world and the lives we carry into them from outside. There is no pure space of ideas, no space where we can just toss around ideas without regard for their implications.