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Not Wanted at Harvard?

March 7, 2013

The abridged version of this article was published as a Letter to the Editor in Harvard’s Crimson.


I am disappointed that The Crimson has not apologized for but instead continues to defend its juvenile editorial warning conservatives not to enroll at Harvard. Although The Crimson claims that the article’s purpose was to highlight the hypocrisy among alumni who wish to “score political points by maligning Harvard,” the article does not actually make this argument. The Crimson never mentions politicians and constituents who attack alumni for attending Harvard—from both sides of the aisle. A good version of the article would have presented a robust and honest discussion of H-bomb dropping in American politics.


But this is not what The Crimson argued. Instead, The Crimson explicitly warns conservatives to stay away from Cambridge on the grounds that students who are critical of Harvard should “neither apply, enroll, nor graduate from this fine institution.” The article’s logic is embarrassing, and the belittling and disparagement of conservative students is repugnant.


The editorial’s suggestion that students who are critical of the university should go elsewhere rests on two false assumptions: first, that solely conservative students disagree with the university; and second, that dissent is inherently problematic. There are countless examples of Harvard’s liberal students and alumni expressing discontent with the University. By its own logic, shouldn’t The Crimson’s message also apply to Al Gore, who has recently supported Divest Harvard? And surely the editors recognize that criticism can play a valuable role in righting wrongs. Certainly they wouldn’t condemn alumni who disagreed and criticized Harvard for its past exclusion of women and minorities? But by the Crimson’s logic, such criticism would constitute “episodes of treachery.” As a Hispanic female, it is difficult to imagine that I might not be studying at Harvard today, were not for vocal critics of past Harvard policies.


Perhaps the most arrogant and disrespectful claim in the article is the characterization of conservatives as “anti-intellectual.” The name-calling itself reveals the real anti-intellectualism at Harvard. It is not typically found among its conservatives, whose ideas and arguments are sharpened by constant scrutiny and criticism. Rather, it is found in the intolerance toward conservatives on campus and in the failure to engage the arguments and principles that guide conservative beliefs in serious debate.


In this respect, this editorial is not an outlier, but only the most brazen recent example of the preference for mindless bullying over authentic discussion. Many of Harvard’s students recognize the value—and necessity—of intellectual diversity, but it is discouraging to see that the editorial board of our campus’s newspaper does not.


Although The Crimson failed to acknowledge the vibrant community of conservatives that exists within Harvard, conservatives’ efforts and achievements merit recognition. As The Crimson has made clear, Harvard can be a “potentially scary place” for conservatives. But that has only made the conservative movement here stronger. Last semester, over twenty faculty and academic staff, ten student groups, and over one hundred student attendees began a new tradition: Harvard’s Conservative Reception. Yes, we are outnumbered, but that does not mean that we don’t belong at Harvard.


In a few weeks, students from across the globe will find out whether they have been accepted into Harvard’s Class of 2017. I urge The Crimson to reconsider its welcome message. Conservatives remain an integral part of Harvard, and they are encouraged to apply and enroll.


Luciana E. Milano ’14 is a government concentrator living in Pforzheimer House. She is Vice President of Speakers and Political Discorse for the Harvard Republican Club.


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