Crimson opinion writer
Guillermo S. Hava
But because he’s only human, Bloomberg can also be a self-interested agent, one vulnerable to flaws, excessive ambition, and stamp-your-name-on-everything narcissism. He is a perfect example of the dangers of overly concentrated power, of how massive wealth can excessively enable the whims of a single individual.
So Harvard put together a glamorous trip to Saudi Arabia, one that was characterized by soft propagandistic efforts and the reflexive self-imposed boundaries on the participants' speech. That much is as obvious as it is predictable; a logical continuation of our University’s outreach to a number of less than democratic countries. The more relevant question is whether such ventures are ever a net good.
But our institution and its counterparts are trapped in a gold-plated version of the prisoner’s dilemma. Harvard — along with the MoMA and other Black-financed enterprises — could benefit from the increased levels of federal funding afforded by equitable, grift-free taxation. More crucially, they have, or perhaps should have, a duty as society-minded institutions to protect the public’s well-being against the excesses of exorbitant inequality.
It’s undeniable that universities are an essential part of any functioning democracy — and that any attempt at dismantling liberal democratic institutions necessarily passes through (or rather over) independent-minded educational institutions. They occupy a dual role, canaries in a coal mine that can also, through their powerful institutional call, help thwart the advance of authoritarian, illiberal policies at home — as our own University did, to its credit, under the Trump administration when it sued to halt new visa policies that would have evicted and barred international students.
We have a campus culture that instills a very specific set of normative values. We tell our students what we value — money, power, influence.
When Harvard received a donation to revamp and rename its School of Public Health in 2014, most press releases and public coverage focused on the more amicable face of the deal.