• A Secret Joke Clouds Harvard's Affirmative Action Case

    Years ago, a Department of Education official sent a joke in the form of a mock memo from Harvard's admissions office to the school's dean of admissions. The joke referenced Asian stereotypes. Its exact content, as referenced in a sidebar in a federal court trial, had been sealed, and then protected by mutual agreement between the trial judge and the parties. Why?

  • A Prominent Story about How "Diversity" Entered College Admissions is Wrong

    by Charles Petersen

    The plaintiffs in a case seeking to outlaw affirmative action in admission policies are relying on a false narrative that "diversity" entered Harvard's admissions criteria as a way to limit the number of Jews admitted. While the existence of Jewish quotas is documented, the two aren't connected. 

  • Is Harvard Actually Discriminating Against Asian Applicants?

    by Julie J. Park

    The data supporting the charge that Harvard's affirmative action policies amount to discrimination against Asian American students isn't as clear-cut as has been reported, says an education researcher who's investigated the policies. Blaming race-based affirmative action conceals the preferences given to legacies, athletes, and donors' children. 

  • Is Israel Criticism the Reason Harvard Refused "Godfather" of Human Rights

    by Michael Massing

    Kenneth Roth retired from Human Rights Watch after nearly three decades, and expected to move to a fellowship at the Kennedy School. Dean Douglas Elmendorf told him his fellowship was rejected because HRW exhibited "anti-Israel bias." Is the school insufficiently independent of the American foreign policy establishment and its donors? 

  • Descendants of Enslaved Ask What Harvard Owes Them

    A student research project led to Roberta Wolff-Platt becoming the first identified descendant of persons enslaved by the benefactors of Harvard College. Now Harvard considers how to begin the process of atonement. 

  • Harvard Holds Remains of 7,000 Native and Enslaved Persons

    by Gillian Brockell

    A university task force convened last year to investigate the provenance of human remains in Harvard's museums and collections condemned the leak of the report while defending their committee's work toward returning remains to appropriate tribal authorities and memorializing the deceased. 

  • Harvard President and Dean: Slavery Shaped the University

    by Lawrence S. Bacow and Tomiko Brown-Nagin

    Harvard's financial, infrastructural and intellectual legacies are unavoidably entangled with slavery. A new report is meant to signal the university's efforts at reckoning and reconciliation. 

  • A Pledge to Recuse by KBJ Likely Means the End of Affirmative Action

    by Keisha N. Blain

    With a challenge to Harvard's affirmative action looming, Judge Jackson's pledge to recuse herself means that the Supreme Court is more likely to rule that affirmative action in private university admissions is unconstitutional, with the likely consequence of increasing racial inequality. 

  • The Revolt of the Super Employees

    by Erik Baker

    The business managerial ethos established in the 1980s destroyed the idea of solidarity and replaced it with a fantasy version of meritocracy. Now, upper-middle management is having the rug pulled out from under it, and they're mad. Are they mad enough to recognize the faults of the system? 

  • When Professors Close Ranks

    by Claire Bond Potter

    If administrations can't be counted on to support student victims of sexual harassment, faculty need to be prepared to defend students and help them defend themselves by whatever means necessary. 

  • Historians on the Harvard Sexual Harassment Scandal

    Two competing open letters pitted Harvard faculty against each other over discipline imposed on anthropology professor John Comaroff. Then a federal lawsuit made the full range of accusations against the professor and the university public. 

  • Notes from a Grad School Survivor

    by Kellen Heniford

    This week's revelations of sexual harassment and institutional complicity at Harvard are striking a chord with women academics because they're not surprising. The author discusses her own experiences and the power dynamics stacked against students and survivors.

  • The Tip of the Iceberg at Harvard?

    Just after 38 Harvard faculty penned an open letter of support for Professor John Comaroff, a lawsuit by three graduate students against him and the university was announced. The allegations describe a repeated pattern of harassment and institutional protection for an abuser.

  • The Captive Photograph

    by Ariella Azoulay

    The taking of photographs of enslaved people by Harvard scientist Louis Agassiz, and the university's continued ownership of those images, constitute a crime against humanity, argues a theorist and historian of visual culture. The images demand an ethic of care to replace an ethic of ownership, which is a model for restorative justice for slavery.

  • The Crimson Klan

    Harvard's administration treated the burning of a cross on Harvard Yard in 1952 as a "prank" and threatened Black students with disciplinary action if they described the incident to the press. A student journalist's research shows that the incident was not out of step with the university's practices in the 20th century. 

  • Who Owns the Evidence of Slavery’s Violence?

    by Thomas A. Foster

    A lawsuit demands that Harvard University give custody of famous images of enslaved men and women--taken without consent by a biologist seeking to demonstrate white supremacy-- to the subjects' descendents. A Howard University historian agrees, putting the images in context of other intimate violations endured by enslaved persons.