Crimson opinion writer
Carine M. Hajjar
Though I have spent thousands of words in this column enumerating Harvard’s problems, I will take now to offer it a solution: sound friendship. Change begins on an interpersonal level when we give each other the margins to express ourselves, to make mistakes, to be corrected, to correct, and ultimately, to feel safe in growing. Friends help us find our Veritas.
If non-conservative faculty have attained academic truth, the value of a liberal arts education and the goal of “discovering and disseminating ideas” become defunct. Our hallowed veritas becomes a meaningless slogan. Is it any surprise that 41 percent of Harvard’s surveyed faculty feel that the University’s standing within higher education has fallen over the last decade?
Students should be held accountable for what they say. However, the problem is that Harvard has created a culture where acceptable conduct is an ever-moving target and there is little forgiveness when you miss the mark. If we truly want students who will have “enormous power” to be responsible leaders, they should feel comfortable expressing their opinions in an academic setting so that they may be corrected and refined when appropriate. Harvard’s culture of fear makes it so that students remain silent when they could be engaging in enormously meaningful conversations: conversations that could correct ignorances and future missteps.
I want where I live to thrive, I want it to be just and righteous. And without first loving it, it will never succeed. Because if we don’t approach the country with love, even tough love, we won’t be able to have a better outcome for all, only for some.
It feels like burning the bridge across the aisle is the new standard for Harvard political discourse. This is a grave disservice to students. Engaging with the opposition, rather than shunning them, is a positive any way you look at it. It gives students a chance to publicly criticize leaders they do not agree with and a chance to learn about a new perspective. If people continue to retreat further into their ideological camps, there is no future for this country and no road to reconciliation.
Before throwing out the possibility, a sense of guilt gave me pause. If someone doesn’t speak out, will anything change? Shouldn’t I be able to share my views? Harvard is an academic institution, after all, and the exchange of ideas should not be an anxiety-inducing ordeal; it should be foundational to intellectual growth.
The administration must take student suggestions, they must not go online in the fall for a traditional semester, and they must choose quickly.
Times of change are times of growth. As we complete the rest of our semester at home, I hope students note the good differences as well as the bad, and recognize the mentally taxing reality we created for ourselves on campus.
While liberal students need to educate themselves and open the dialogue to all views, conservatives need to step up and stand by their opinions. Only then can they destigmatize their beliefs on campus.