Monday, July 31, 2017

Harvard punishes some social organizations. Why?

Over at  the blog Bits and Pieces my adviser Harry Lewis (is he still my adviser 32 years after I got my PhD? Yes) has written many posts about Harvard's decision to ban people who belong to same-sex organizations from being approved for Rhodes Fellowships and other things. He is against it. Not just that, he gives history, context, etc. While originally intended to stop some excesses of some male clubs, the ban  also punishes all-female clubs. But that's not the only reason the punishment is idiotic..

I could not possibly describe and argue against the policy as well as Harry Lewis can, (e.g., he never used the word idiotic) so I was going to write a post briefly describing the situation and then pointing to all of his posts.

AH- but then Michael Mitzenmacher did that in his blog My Biased Coin (Hmmm- I think its his biased coin).

I could not possibly give a short description and point to Harry Lewis's posts as well as MM did.

SO I point to MM's post and give some brief comments.

MM's post is here. Warning- MM's post  points to 16 Harry Lewis's posts. That is a lot to read but well worth it.

My two cents (that would be a good blog name!):

1) After MM's post HL posted again about the issue, this time pointing to several more  articles on the issue and commenting on them. HL's post is Here. That is even more to read but well worth it.
(UPDATE- After I posted this HL posted another post on this topic on his blog: here)

2) While I have seen many arguments against the policy I have not seen a single argument for the policy. I don't mean that I have seen arguments and they were not good, I really have not seen any arguments good or bad.

3) I would much rather have the debate be:

What are some clubs doing that is bad? If so then is there some policy that makes sense?

rather than

What business is it of Harvard what off-campus clubs a student belongs to?

1 comment:

  1. Whether something is allowed by law compared to whether sometime is just a good or bad idea are two different things. It seems to me that in this situation in particular, debate gets confused by this catagory error. Harvard is a private organization, we can ask if under the law it is allowed to do this, and no doubt there's an answer. But even if it is completely legal, in my experience, in many situations, the best way to discourage groups with values that do not match yours is milder and more social.