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Oh, good. Harvard is now bending to pressures from mob politics to… - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
Oh, good. Harvard is now bending to pressures from mob politics to replace its president. That bodes well for academic freedom.
16 comments or Leave a comment
straussmonster From: straussmonster Date: February 22nd, 2006 03:49 am (UTC) (Link)
Well, he wasn't exactly popular with the faculty by now either. I find it reassuring that their opinions do seem to matter, as opposed to things being decided entirely by the Corporation.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: February 22nd, 2006 03:55 am (UTC) (Link)
The problem pretty much is the lockstep faculty, and that their problem with him was that he disagreed with them publicly.

Also, the president's job is to go out and raise money; he doesn't need to get along with anyone. But for me, the point is less any of the particulars of the situation than that the president of Harvard was forced to step down because of mob politics. I don't even care what the mob was saying or what it was annoyed about. It was the same thing I felt with the whole Lewinsky thing with Clinton--by the time the conservative press got done, I just wanted to bitch-slap the lot of them for insulting the office.
straussmonster From: straussmonster Date: February 22nd, 2006 03:58 am (UTC) (Link)
Not totally--the president's job is also to lead the university and provide a public face for and represent the university, and it actually is very important that he get along with the faculty. Over here Levin takes care not to be an ass, and it goes a remarkably long way. There is something wrong when the faculty starts to take a no-confidence vote, although I don't know how that would turn out.
story645 From: story645 Date: February 22nd, 2006 05:09 am (UTC) (Link)
eek. Buh, buh? What did he do now? And don't tell me it's for his girls math/science comment, cause just *headdesky* I'm one of the people that's supposed to be insulted by his comment or something, and I don't really care one bit.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: February 22nd, 2006 05:12 am (UTC) (Link)
As far as I can tell, it's still that. That's the only thing that was quoted on our local affiliate, along with the vague comment that he doesn't "get along" with faculty.
story645 From: story645 Date: February 22nd, 2006 05:23 am (UTC) (Link)
like I said, what in the world? a) he's not even that horribly wrong, b)the remark wasn't offensive, c)most of the girls that I know in maths and sciences would agree with hime if anything (and they're brilliant)
why can't they speak to the group that they feel was offended before going all nutsy?
ladyvorkosigan From: ladyvorkosigan Date: February 22nd, 2006 11:43 am (UTC) (Link)
It's something about some dean retiring; it's rumored he forced him out. Honestly, I suspect it's still really the math/science comment, unless there's a lot more to the dean thing than they've been running in the paper.

I'd like to point out that the law school is universally against this; our dean was even quoted yesterday saying "The faculty of arts and sciences need to realize they're not the only ones at this university." In other words, I'm distancing myself. :-)
From: _kneebiter Date: February 22nd, 2006 06:36 am (UTC) (Link)
That bodes well for academic freedom.




Sorry. Also I have nothing against either Harvard or Yale but the rivalry and the scansion made me use them.
miss_daizy From: miss_daizy Date: February 22nd, 2006 01:00 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, I doubt I agreed with the man on much, but this was not a good thing. It bodes poorly for the future, IMO.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: February 22nd, 2006 03:03 pm (UTC) (Link)
Exactly. It's the whole, "You said something we disagree with, so we're going to hound you out" that makes my head explode about this. Though not quite as badly as it was last night when I posted this; a later news report pointed out that he's still going to teach classes as a professor.
mafdet From: mafdet Date: February 22nd, 2006 05:09 pm (UTC) (Link)
It appears that Summers was forced out because he acted like an asshat and alienated everyone, not just because of the women-in-science remark. The latter was a gaffe, to be sure, but hardly a firing offense. It would have been shrugged off if Summers had had people skills.

However, from my (albeit imperfect) understanding of what went on, Summers was one of those "difficult bosses."
From: (Anonymous) Date: February 22nd, 2006 05:10 pm (UTC) (Link)
I don't think your assessment of the situation is very accurate. Let's walk through three points.

1. You may view this as a technicality, but Harvard did not force out their president. Given his unpopularity and lack of support within the faculty and the university's governing board, he decided to resign.

2. As an institution Harvard is very old, very proud and very independent. While there has been external criticism of the president, such "pressures from mob politics" probably had very little to do with his decision.

3. This is not an issue of academic freedom. The uproar over his statement about the math/science aptitude of women has mostly died down by this point. (I don't see that as a matter of academic freedom either. He was freely allowed to say something stupid, and he freely apologized for it.) To quote a newspaper article: "This time the dissent was fueled by a widespread unhappiness among the staff at his centralizing management style." Faculty members accuse him of being blunt to the point of rudeness. His actions have led to the dismissal or resignation of several prominent faculty members. As I said, this isn't about academic freedom; it's about poor management.

the_evil_sock From: the_evil_sock Date: February 22nd, 2006 07:48 pm (UTC) (Link)
Well, I barely remember the original kerfuffle. Did he actually suggest that girls / women can't do math because of some genetic difference or did he suggest that girls / women don't do as well in math because the education system somehow fails girls or something similar?

If it's the latter then the outcry was unfair, but if it's the former... well that's ignorant and disgusting, and I don't really see what's wrong with running him out of town on a rail.
the_evil_sock From: the_evil_sock Date: February 22nd, 2006 07:54 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh wow, I just googled his original statements.... If there's a mob after this guy all I want to know is where I can buy a good torch and pitchfork set.
polly_locket From: polly_locket Date: February 22nd, 2006 09:52 pm (UTC) (Link)
Heh, my thoughts exactly except more concise and eloquent at that. ;)

He may have worded his unfounded opinion improperly in terms of suiting women in general, but why let the radicals stamp him out? Surprising to many, I know, but there ARE IN FACT DIFFERENCES between men and women.

oy, feminists.
phylogenetics From: phylogenetics Date: February 23rd, 2006 01:23 am (UTC) (Link)
I doubt it was his comment which 'forced' him out, it was his unpopularity with the faculty at the school. The comment was just the 'straw that broke the camel's back'. I was reading in the NYTimes that he was unpopular to begin with and that he had rubbed alot of people the wrong way. Is that enough to off the president of the school? I figure, if the guy is so unpopular that the School of Arts and Sciences was willing to do a vote of no-confidence, then there should be some serious reconsideration of his position. I don't think this has anything to do with mob violence or 'radical feminists'. It's just good ol' unrest among the common folks.
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