Friday, January 1, 2016

Knowing Your Place at Harvard

"Harvard stumbles over ‘social justice’ placemats" by Steve Annear Globe Staff  December 17, 2015

Harvard College officials this week apologized for dishing out placemats to students that suggested ways to talk with family at holiday gatherings about race relations, Islamophobia, student activism, and the outgoing title of “house master” that has long been used at the school.

The laminated placards, called the “Holiday Placemat for Social Justice: A placemat guide for holiday discussions on race and justice with loved ones,” irked some students on campus, who said it was too dogmatic.

I thought I smelled an agenda.

“We reject the premise that there is a ‘right’ way to answer the questions posed. We do not think the officials of the university should be in the business of disseminating ‘approved’ positions on complex and divisive political issues,” students from Harvard’s Undergraduate Council wrote in a letter to the school. “Prescribing party-line talking points stands in stark contrast to the College’s mission of fostering intellectual, social, and personal growth.”

The placemats, which offered “tips for talking to family,” were taken down amid criticism this week. They were the product of a collaboration between the college’s Office for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, and the Freshman Dean’s Office. They first appeared in Annenberg Hall, the freshman dining hall, last week.

School officials sent a letter to the community expressing their regret for promoting the posters.

In the joint letter, the dean of student life, Stephen Lassonde, and Thomas Dingman, dean of freshmen, acknowledged that the placemats distributed in the dining hall “failed to account for the many viewpoints that exist on our campus.”


Speaking of placemats, it is time to get something to eat.


"Three students were arrested Thursday following a brawl in the cafeteria at The English High School in Jamaica Plain."