Convinced that the longevity of Harvard humanities must take precedence over the longevity of its present departmental form, we hope the FAS does not allow questions of structure to elide more fundamental questions of substance.
Fun is no laughing matter. It is an institutional imperative for students to be happy and socially connected. A mental health crisis fueled by record loneliness is what happens when we act like fun is not an essential, soul-nourishing part of the human experience. So why do our fetes falter? I see two things dimming the Friday night lights.
The thing that unsettles me most about today’s affirmative action decision is that admissions remains a dirty word on Harvard’s campus. There exists a politics of politeness that proscribes honest discussion about Harvard College’s admissions practices. This reluctance has long held back reform; now, it could restrain the student response to the fall of affirmative action too.
Lost beneath the panic over affirmative action’s coming demise, the hidden tragedy of the ongoing admissions saga has been to make it seem as though class-conscious admissions is an alternative to race-conscious admissions. In reality, we need both. My point is not that there is one inarguable conclusion about how to fairly structure Harvard admissions; it’s that the current system has failed to achieve economic diversity, which is a state of affairs we must reject and improve.
With today’s editorial, the Board seems to have missed the punchline. As a long, important train of our precedents emphasizes, student well-being matters deeply and merits firm institutional support across a host of issues far more serious than a few sweltering evenings. But Harvard neither can nor should be a palace. Manageable, non-life-threatening adversity is an entirely reasonable burden to expect us to bear.
Harvard should use its reputation amongst universities to remove rot as soon as it’s discovered. The longer it fails to do so, the deeper the blight of misconduct will fester and spread. Students, for want of a Google search, will continue to suffer.
The original sin of this school comes with awkwardly fitting a fractured template for representative government from the outside world onto a community small enough to lead itself cooperatively. To absolve it, we must choose something different, better — a politics of direct democracy, of personality, and of action.