Are Harvard’s Conservative Donors Cowards?


Alex Grass Freelance Writer
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On May 6th, Harvard president Drew Gilpin Faust wrote a letter accepting the recommendations of Dean Rakesh Khurana to change the rules for “single-gender social organizations” with four main recommendations:

  1. From 2017 on, any new student who joins a single-sex club “will not be eligible to hold leadership positions in recognized student organizations or athletic teams”;

  2. New students who have been added to this blacklist won’t receive any of the letters of recommendation required for special academic opportunities;

  3. The rules for this Orwellian exclusionary scheme will be curated by a collection of the ideologically compliant (the most unimaginative and instinctively totalitarian people Harvard can find: college administrators and gender studies majors); and,

  4. Harvard will help those menacingly single-sexed organizations, all of them private, and all off-campus, to assimilate properly.

The well-initiated will recognize a familiar and menacing lunacy, the instinctual gut reaction of the intellectually indolent left to all dissenting views. They ostracize, drown out opposing voices, and punish thought.

It would be easy to relish in the spectacle of Harvard’s president brokering a Faustian deal with her Dean, not in a sacrifice for knowledge, but instead for single-minded enforcement against students who’ve evaded Ivy groupthink. Harvard’s student newspaper, the Crimson, however, will be exempted from this ideological banishment. Even career academics recognize the poor optics of restricting the freedom of association of journalists.

It isn’t as if this is purely a left-right dispute. One of the slates running for election to the Harvard Board of Overseers includes Ralph Nader. The stance Nader & Co. have taken towards Faust’s political witch hunt is unequivocal: “We are appalled and dismayed by the Harvard University administration’s attack on the freedom of association of members of all-male and all-female off-campus clubs, fraternities, and sororities.” Ralph Nader is known primarily for his support of left-liberal, mildly anti-capitalist economic positions, and for his left-of-liberal third party campaigns for the presidency.  It’s no longer simply right-wing, pro-gun, laissez faire, anti-abortion nutjobs, as those in the university like to put it, who are assailing these ill-advised policies.

We needn’t explore every detail of every incident that’s happened on campus. A number of journalists and free speech advocates have that area covered. But another question has been left unanswered: Where are the donors while all of this is going down?

John Paulson is a wildly successful hedge fund manager, and prolific donor to Republican candidates. A little more than year ago, it was publicized that Paulson would be donating $400,000,000 to Harvard’s engineering school. Despite J.P.’s generosity, he was widely mocked for giving to his alma mater, in lieu of saving the whales, housing Syrian orphans, or whatever anodyne cause has captured every P.C. Principal of late.

Another of Harvard’s largest gifts came from self-described “Reagan Republican” Ken Griffin, who gave $150,000,000 to be counted towards financial aid. Griffin avoided the opprobrium that greeted his plutocratic pal Paulson, doubtless because his gift was intended to all-inclusively subsidize just about any Harvard attendee — even those whose choices of major might put them in an iffy post-graduation position. This is in contradistinction to Paulson, who restricted his gift to engineers.

In total, the two donated more than half a billion dollars. That may seem like chicken feed when set against the backdrop of a $30 billion-plus endowment, but it’s more than enough to make administrators listen to them. That is, if donors had the backbone to openly denounce an administration that takes their money with one hand, and crushes dissent with the other.

There is only one solution: any gift to Harvard must come with a proviso that any university rule punishing students’ freedom of association automatically revokes that donation. In the meantime, Harvard alumni miffed by the school’s bizarre fixation on the low hanging fruits of feminism should speak up.

Retired Lt. Gen. William Boykin, of Hampden-Sydney College, recently had his professorship returned to him after a threatened dismissal. He had said “[t]he first man who goes in the restroom with my daughter will not have to worry about surgery.” Instead of falling on the sword of forced mea culpa, or begging for redemption in a lachrymose CNN confessional, Boykin held firm. His termination instigated a response from the public that swiftly shooed Boykin back into a job. Recapping the fiasco, he correctly defined the battle as it is waged today: “My reinstatement is a victory for academic freedom and free thought on a college campus. The free exchange of conflicting ideas must be the bedrock of every college campus in America.”

Wishy-washy donors are so beset by visions of jargon-laden ultimatums shouted out by campus activists, they forget they’re the ones with the power of the purse. Stockholm Syndrome has taken hold. If influential conservatives and libertarians idle in neutral, while every residuum of sanity is melted out their children’s skulls, they are cowards. Silence is tacit consent. Well, in this context, anyhow.