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Harvard has willfully and intentionally destroyed the “Harvard brand.” In doing so, Harvard has hurt its present and future. It has also damaged the opportunities for its hundreds of thousands of living graduates who bought into Harvard being a boon to their professional careers. The quality of Harvard today, and not when they graduated, determines the added value of being a Harvard graduate.
There is a story from the Talmud about people getting on a boat. One can imagine what a boat in their day was like, nothing like our monstrous seafaring ships. As the crew was preparing to shove off, passengers noticed that one fellow was drilling a hole through the wood immediately under his seat. Terrified, the others began to scream at him to stop at once. The offender looked at them and calmly said, “This is my seat. I paid for it and I can do whatever I want.”
I was reminded of this story over the past few months as Harvard University, my alma mater, turned itself into Gaza on the Charles. I saw a picture of clueless students all wearing keffiyehs while sitting in the main reading room of Widener Library (named for a graduate who died in a real ocean liner disaster, The Titanic). Then there are the marches with signs “From the river to the sea….” implying the genocide of 8.5 million Jews currently living in that space. Then there are the firsthand accounts of Jewish students who have been threatened, spat on, and intimidated by other students and faculty.
Watching Harvard self-immolate, a group of graduates from different Harvard schools have banded together to sue the University and the Harvard Corporation for their role in damaging Harvard and worsening the job prospects of its many graduates. I have used the analogy before but I will take the liberty of repeating it here: picture being on a bus with a responsible driver, when suddenly said driver is replaced by an absolute maniac. There is not much you can do but your future well-being depends on the new driver. Harvard has ruined a name that has been very useful for graduates to get jobs, make connections and move careers forward. DEI, wokeism and now open antisemitism are destroying what was often considered the greatest university in the US. We are looking for additional alumni to join us in this fight to right the ship.
I remember the thrill of receiving my notification of early acceptance to Harvard. It was a frigid December day when I opened the letter that expressed its congratulations. Though we were only 18 when we signed on the dotted line, Harvard students and later graduates entered a lifelong relationship with the university. The university makes such an arrangement crystal clear. If you need anything from your academic file, Harvard will get it for you. The Harvard Alumni Association proudly touts Harvard’s ability to help its graduates make connections and advance their careers. Harvard provides help and in turn expects fealty: they are always asking for donations, especially from the major reunion classes. They go so far to ask that Harvard be included in estate planning. From acceptance to death, Harvard and its graduates are tied at the hip.
But what happens if Harvard intentionally lets itself go to pot? What if Harvard adopts policies that keep away good students and faculty, cause donors to withhold their money and lead to federal investigations? What if Harvard’s leaders—president and Corporation—take a path that destroys the Harvard brand, makes Harvard the endless butt of jokes, and actually leads to law firms and some companies saying that they do not want the graduates that Harvard is producing? Does Harvard have a legal obligation to always be the best it can be? Does it have to always pursue the best faculty, topflight research facilities and the most outstanding students? Does Harvard’s obligations to its students extend to their lives after leaving school? If Harvard pursues policies that cause a drop in applications, reduced donations, and accepted students looking elsewhere, is that malfeasance on the part of the leaders of the university? These are questions we plan to put before a court. Our lawsuit is independent of the one filed by six current Harvard students who feel that the university has not protected them from antisemitic threats against them. Our suit is also separate from a pending Title VI federal lawsuit regarding Harvard’s allowance of racism and bigotry against its Jewish students.
A professor whom I respect told me that the interim president, Dr. Alan Garber, was a straight-shooter. His first letter to the Harvard community showed me otherwise. He made three major blunders. He had high praise for his predecessor, Claudine Gay. He also said that there had been a rise in antisemitism and islamophobia on campus. Wow, I must have missed that violent march when Jewish students demanded the killing of all Arabs between the river and the sea… And finally, he simply papered over the disaster of the past three months at Harvard with milquetoast words about it being a difficult and unsettling time on campus. No kidding? I am always amazed how ostensibly high-quality people become garbage when they are given actual responsibility to lead.
Our lawsuit against Harvard is intended to make the university better, to get hopefully new leadership to put the school back on a track for success. DEI admissions and advancement as well as the coddling of Jew-haters have damaged Harvard and its nearly 400-year-old brand. It cannot fix itself from within; we will help do the surgery from without by way of the courts.