Today Drew Faust, President of Harvard University, emailed alumni and others to comment on the lawsuit that accuses Harvard of discriminating against Asian-Americans in admissions:
Dear Alumni and Friends,
In the weeks and months ahead, a lawsuit aimed to compromise Harvard’s ability to compose a diverse student body will move forward in the courts and in the media.
Until now, the case has been tied up in Harvard’s multiple motions to dismiss, which have been denied by the trial judge. It is now in the discovery phase, and plaintiffs are requesting that files allegedly showing decades of discrimination against Asian-Americans be made public.
As the case proceeds, an organization called Students for Fair Admissions—formed in part to oppose Harvard’s commitment to diversity—will seek to paint an unfamiliar and inaccurate image of our community and our admissions processes, including by raising allegations of discrimination against Asian-American applicants to Harvard College. These claims will rely on misleading, selectively presented data taken out of context. Their intent is to question the integrity of the undergraduate admissions process and to advance a divisive agenda. Please see here for more information about the case.
Translation: Harvard’s “commitment to diversity” is realized by discriminating in favor of some ethnic groups, and against others. Further, questioning such discrimination–not engaging in it–represents a “divisive agenda.”
Year after year, Harvard brings together a community that is the most varied and diverse that any of us is likely ever to encounter. Harvard students benefit from working and living alongside people of different backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives as they prepare for the complex world that awaits them and their considerable talents.
Is Harvard saying that if it didn’t prefer some ethnic groups over others, its students wouldn’t encounter “people of different backgrounds, experiences and perspectives?” Is skin color really a background, experience or perspective, let alone a decisively important one?
I have affirmed in the past, and do so again today, that Harvard will vigorously defend its longstanding values and the processes by which it seeks to create a diverse educational community. We will stand behind an approach that has been held up as legal and fair by the Supreme Court, one that relies on broad and extensive outreach to exceptional students in order to attract excellence from all backgrounds.
As this case generates widespread attention and comment, Harvard will react swiftly and thoughtfully to defend diversity as the source of our strength and our excellence—and to affirm the integrity of our admissions process. A diverse student body enables us to enrich, to educate, and to challenge one another. As a university community, we are bound across differences by a shared commitment to learning, to pursuing truth, and to embracing the rigor and respect of argument and evidence. We never give up on the promise of a world made better by an assumption revisited, an understanding expanded, or a truth questioned—again and again and again.
What a load of pretentious rubbish! There is nothing so base but what it can be dignified with prettified justifications.
Last month, I presided over our Commencement Exercises for a final time and reveled in the accomplishments of our graduates and alumni, and in the joy and pride of the faculty who educated them, the staff who enabled their manifold successes, and the family members who helped nurture them and their aspirations. Tercentenary Theatre was filled with individuals from the widest range of backgrounds and life experiences. It was a powerful reminder that the heart of this extraordinary institution is its people.
Now, we have an opportunity to stand together and to defend the ideals and the people that make our community so extraordinary. I am committed to ensuring that veritas will prevail.
Is race discrimination really one of the “ideals…that make [Harvard’s] community so extraordinary?” Yale changed the name of Calhoun College, but at Harvard, the intellectual legacy of John C. Calhoun–a master of the highfalutin’ explanation of an ugly reality–lives on.