ACTA in the News | Freedom of Expression

Misguided fixation on diversity has been Harvard’s downfall

THE BOSTON GLOBE   |  January 8, 2024 by Leslie Paige

Shirley Leung’s Jan. 4. Business column, “Claudine Gay and the politics of diversity, equity, and inclusion,” argues that the fall of Harvard’s president should not be seen as a referendum on DEI. I disagree. The Harvard Corporation’s misguided fixation on diversity led to the mortification of America’s most prestigious university before the whole country. The secrecy and haste with which the Corporation elevated to the Harvard presidency a campus dean who was myopically focused on DEI should never be repeated. Recommitting itself to that same narrow-minded version of DEI to guide its search for her successor would only compound the disaster.

The board’s DEI obsession has resulted in an adverse Supreme Court decision on affirmative action, the rise of poisonous antisemitism on campus, the lowest rating ever recorded for campus free expression, and now a cringeworthy leadership scandal. The school is already an echo chamber of progressive viewpoints where only about 3 percent of faculty identify as conservative and students aggressively self-censor.

Instead, Harvard should recommit to its own motto, Veritas, the search for truth. That search should focus on intellectual diversity, not the current DEI version in which people may look different but think the same. Harvard needs faculty and a leader who will challenge its campus orthodoxies and shibboleths. And that will not come from the DEI office.

Leslie Paige

Vice president of communications

American Council of Trustees and Alumni

Washington, D.C.

This letter appeared on The Boston Globe on January 8, 2024.


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