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Monday, February 27, 2006

Some Notes on CampusTap and the New Space

Hey everyone,

I just wanted to take a minute to address some of the comments and concerns we've been getting regarding our move to CampusTap. I'm cross-posting this here since many of the criticisms are being voiced here, and so that people who aren't plugged into CampusTap can read this as well. (more in expanded post)

First of all, we're really sorry about the delay in getting anonymous commenting up and running--the people designing CampusTap have been working extremely hard to set up that feature, as well as the RSS feed, which many people--both CampusTap users and non-users--have been requesting.

Second, we thank you for all your critical feedback--it lets us know what we need to fix and/or watch out for. At the same time, we hope that you can also be open-minded about the switch. Based on our experience with them, the CampusTap people aren't evil, institutional hyper-capitalists scheming to take over the world with their service/product--they're genuinely nice, earnest people who continue to go out of their way to help build us a server we'd be excited to use (partly because it's important to them that we become users, but also because they share our interest in the possibilities of New Media).

I'll be the first one to admit that the CampusTap site seems overwhelming and a little clannish at first, especially in comparison to clean-and-easy blogger (although, as you can tell from our whacked-out font that we've been trying to fix for weeks, blogger's not problem-free either). But the main advantage of CampusTap is that we get to dream up almost anything we want and, though it will take some time to build, eventually it can be realized. The CampusTap people are all ears--seriously. They want criticisms, suggestions and feedback. All that's required on our end is a little patience and a little trust. Honestly, this isn't so much to ask given the ease with which, if CampusTap did do something to frustrate us, we could easily switch back to blogger. But for now, we're making an investment (not monetary; just time- and hope-related) because we're enthusiastic about the new, customized features Campustap can construct, given that they can also eventually provide most of the same features we love about blogger.

For one thing, CampusTap lets us have multiple blogs on our single cambridge common site. At the moment we have our main blog, a guest blog (not yet in use) and an archives page. In the future, when we get more writers, we're looking into the possibility of an exciting layout redesign that we wouldn't be able to do with blogger (or at least it would cost a lot to pay someone to figure it out for us).

A few of us are also warming up to the nifty calendar function, which is actually a feature we had been trying to figure out how to incorporate into cambridge common ourselves before campustap approached us. The calendar can be helpful if you want to find out about campus events in your area of interest without having to deal with a flood of emails. It also gives us at cambridge common the ability to easily show our support for various real-life campus groups' endeavors.

Most importantly, CampusTap is an exciting experiment in online networking among campus communities. We’ll never know how useful it can be in bridging groups on campus and facilitating debate and information sharing until we—collectively—give it an honest try, understanding that it may not be perfect, we may ultimately deem it undesirable, but at least we’ll have explored it as a possibility. I hope you’ll be open to taking a chance on this project, taking its brand-nameyness with a grain of salt, and taking advantage of a rare opportunity to participate in building a network from the ground up.

Thanks for bearing with us during this time of transition. We think it'll be worth the wait.

Friday, February 24, 2006


We're online with CampusTap! Come share some wisdom with us in OUR NEW HOME!

Thursday, February 23, 2006


This was a post I wrote last November and never published because it seemed to add little to the age-old question, but in retrospect, and at the beginning of a very busy semester, I think it is an appropriate time to ask some questions like these:
A couple of interesting conversations I've had this weekend have prompted me to really reconsider what I personally define as success, for myself. I think that sometimes what's easiest to say and what sounds good or right is not really what we feel inside: though I may say, and truly want to believe, and sometimes do believe, that I am comfortable with my academics being less than stellar because I have chosen to spend my time here in other ways, I know that a little part of me is disappointed whenever I see my transcript and wonders if I have sacrificed or compromised my future goals in some way for something I can't even put my finger on. I think this is true for many who enjoy their academics, but feel that their devotion to other causes, which may be equally or more important to them, make it impossible to learn and perform as they know they could.

So. How do you define success? How should we define success at Harvard? Do we lie to ourselves on the surface to relieve the stress or burden we may feel to do something big or achieve a certain level or result or make change, but by denying what we feel inside, do we do ourselves greater injury? Is it possible to turn an entire college of overachieving do-it-alls into satisfied and occasionally mediocre people? ...how?


Hey all, just a quick reminder that we're having a little shindig tonight at 9 pm in the Lowell Grille (in the basement of O-entryway) to celebrate our move over to CampusTap and our new writers and to hopefully encourage some friends and readers to come share their thoughts with us (along with some pizza and drinks).

update: A reader reminds me that I haven't explained what CampusTap is. Basically, it's a new venture being kicked off by a handful of Harvard students that seeks to be the blog platform- like Blogger- for Harvard. The Crimson has a story on the site today.

Another quick note: many apologies to those of you who are having a hard time reading the site with this new font. We have no idea why it changed and I don't really like it. Luckily, as of 9 pm tonight, it won't matter!

Hope to see you there.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Larry Summers Takes A Bow

One year ago, I spent the better part of the afternoon at a rally sponsored by the Coalition for an Anti-Sexist Harvard, where a hundred undergraduates suffered through subzero temperatures and intermittent rain to demand Larry Summers' resignation. The protest was timed to coincide with a critical meeting of the faculty, which was being covered by media outlets nationwide. It was a convergence of local and national opinion - the back of my head, for example, was featured on the next week’s Independent, but I had friends whose grandparents came across their pictures by way of the Associated Press. Larry Summers probably wasn’t having a fantastic day on February 22nd. Frankly, he’s not doing much better this year, since he's apparently opted for the whole unemployment thing instead of doggedly picking a fight.(more in expanded post)

What surprises me, though, is that I’m kind of ambivalent about the whole resignation announcement. Last year, I felt so strongly about the need for a change in leadership that I stood in an ankle-deep puddle of ice water for an hour and even filled out my own little no-confidence vote to place in the rally’s novelty-sized ballot box. If that’s not dedication, I don’t know what is. This year, for no apparent reason, I can’t seem to summon up any sort of seething rage.

It’s not like Larry Summers has personally changed my mind; if anything, I’ve been pretty disheartened by the constant controversy over things like Dean Kirby’s resignation and the backsliding on issues that hit closer to home, like Harvard’s refusal to join the lawsuit against the Solomon Amendment, pay its workers a living wage, or include gender identity and expression in its non-discrimination code. I’m convinced that leaders need to lead, and that conviction doesn’t necessarily stem from any sort of progressive belief that Harvard needs to set a global example (although, in an ideal world, maybe it would). Instead, I’d be satisfied if Harvard’s leadership took the initiative to solicit student opinion and listen to concerns instead of waiting until they’ve got dozens of unwashed labor activists calling the New York Times from their office. The student body is incredibly diverse, and almost every student group has concerns that deeply affect their college experience. I’d be refreshed if this was acknowledged by anyone, including Summers’ successor.

I’m invested in a university that functions as a model of academic excellence and democratic ideals, and I don’t believe that we were headed in the right direction – so why am I ambivalent right now? On a visceral level, I feel bad for Larry Summers because he’s human and deserves some degree of sympathy. It’s one thing to watch someone resign in an acknowledgment of bad decisions on his part; it’s another thing, though, to watch him shrug his shoulders and call it quits because a significant portion of his colleagues find him generally unlikable. My guilt complex is fairly overactive, and when I opened my inbox and found Larry Summers’ terse, wistful letter, something in me died a little. In a totally irrational way, I feel bad for wishing this upon him. Clearly, no individual student is responsible for his departure, but I held a sign and let my mullet-like haircut grace the cover of the Independent, so I feel apologetic in an admittedly irrational way.

It’s easy to become apprehensive about the more concrete effects of Summers’ departure, too. First and foremost, I worry about what this decision is going to do to the credibility of the left at Harvard. It was easy to dislike Summers when he had done something that was widely recognized as sexist – or, at the very least, wholly insensitive – by a large audience across the nation. At this time last year, the same announcement would have carried a very different symbolic weight, and it might have suggested that Harvard’s female students mattered more than its feckless president. It would have been a lesson, for better or for worse, in cause and effect and the importance of taking responsibility for one’s own actions – and that could have been meaningful for women and minorities everywhere. Instead, the lack of a single, salient source of discontent at the time of the announcement means that the whole episode is likely to go down as an anecdote about liberal academia’s chokehold on free thought – and that’s a drastically reductionist understanding of the whole debacle.

It makes sense for activists to be apprehensive about the announcement – not necessarily disappointed that Summers is leaving, but disappointed that the whole ordeal is likely to become a retroactive pox on the left at Harvard. Summers is departing at a time when there’s no single error in judgment that might merit his removal from power. Overall, this – more than anything else – is disappointing to those of us who can identify a litany of past frustrations and are still hoping against hope for positive, progressive institutional change. Harvard can easily stand up for its students and develop ethical fiber by divesting from Sudan, by refusing federal money until all of its students are eligible for the same employment opportunities, by updating its non-discrimination code, by fully recognizing underfunded academic disciplines, and by paying its workers a living wage. The feuds that marked Summers’ tenure didn’t have to be political, but the intractability of the university’s position turned them into ideologically charged free-for-alls between liberal academia and a controversial, more conservative figurehead. Now, by avoiding any issue directly and stepping down in a period of general discontent, there’s a good chance that the decision will go down in history as a victory of the implacable left, without really remembering why discontent built over the years. Overall, that’s bad news for those of us who will sacrifice a good pair of shoes and risk frostbite to fight sexism, but can’t seem to get excited about a decisive victory over nothing in particular.

on the radio

Earlier this evening I participated in a roundtable discussion on WHRB about the Summers resignation. The other panelists were Zach Seward, the former Crimson Managing Editor who broke the story itself for the WSJ, Eric Lesser, the President of the Dems, and Matt Meisel, one of the co-chairs of the Crimson. I think it was a good discussion, although the other three probably contributed more to it than I did. The piece also featured a taped statement from Professor James Engell on behalf of the faculty, an interview with Richard Bradley of Harvard Rules and a (wo)man on the street montage of Harvard students. Check it out and share your reactions.

on covering coverage and breaking news

On a few email lists, and now in the comments section, has been the complaint that Cambridge Common thinks it "broke" the news that Larry is resigning. I quickly mentioned this issue earlier today, but I thought it was fair to address it more in full. Apologies to people on the FUP list who have already read this explanation. (more in expanded post)

I do not claim to have "broken" the fact that Larry Summers was resigning. Simply speaking, I (and people on email lists) "broke" the fact that the Crimson believed that the WSJ had the story and that some Crimson staff members were sharing this information. That fact (and it is a fact) was verified by two sources and a half a dozen emails. I realize that the emails are less reliable, but the sources at the Crimson were as reliable as any sources that the Crimson uses on reporting on other things.

Simply said, this was coverage of the Crimson. If anything, that people believed that because I reported this fact-that the Crimson believed that it had been scooped by the WSJ- they believed that Larry was in fact resigning is a testament to the reliability of the Crimson.

To the extent that you believe that the Crimson should not be covered as a newsmaker in and of itself, or to the extent that you do not trust me as a source and therefore don't believe my sources were legitimate, I would understand concern and clarification. But if you believe that I am a reliable source and the Crimson is a legitimate thing to be covered, I held myself to the same standards that the Crimson holds itself to.

It seems odd to me that some have decried my coverage of the "breaking" of the story, and yet do so because they are so interested in that fact as a piece of news. Because I wrote about the "breaking" of the story before it was "broken" doesn't make my story any less legitimate. In addition, this seems ironic to me considering the fact that the story the Crimson ended up running this morning was about the fact that another media source had confirmed the story but they could not.

In any event, I want to make this clear because it's important to me not to delegitimize the hard work done by the people who actually confirmed the truth of the story and worked hard to do so. I was excited to find out about the process as it was happening, but only because the process itself is important and a valid thing to cover.

I hope that's clear. Feel free to share your thoughts and wisdom. If you're interested, you can read more about my thoughts on alternative media at Harvard.

Think we're spiffy?

Come hang out with us at the Cambridge Common R E L A U N C H party!
This Thursday, 9-11 pm, Lowell Grille.
Some food, some great company and some RELAUNCHING!!!

civilized cultures would never do such a...oh wait...

Things like this are part of why I'm so frustrated when people make broad generalizations about the noble attributes of 'Western Civilization' in opposition to "[Islam,] a rather sizable religious tradition [that] doesn’t seem even to comprehend the notion of free expression."
Some guy I'm reading for class wrote the following a while ago:
It will be said, that we do not now put to death the introducers of new opinions: we are not like our fathers who slew the prophets, we even build sepulchres to them. It is true we no longer put heretics to death; and the amount of penal infliction which modern feeling would probably tolerate, even against the most obnoxious opinions, is not sufficient to extirpate them. But let us not flatter ourselves that we are yet free from the stain of even legal persecution. Penalties for opinion, or at least for its expression, still exist by law; and their enforcement is not, even in these times, so unexampled as to make it at all incredible that they may some day be revived in full force.
-J.S. Mill, "On Liberty"
More recently, a popular music group had this to say:
I know you'd like to think your shit don't stink
But lean a little bit closer
See that roses really smell like boo-boo
Yeah, roses really smell like boo-boo
-Outkast, "Roses"
Wise sentiments, both.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

avoiding a fall after summers

A recent anonymous commentor offered some good reasons why we undergrads should care about our presidents' resignation. In particular, they note that this is an important opportunity to reassess and clarify our own priorities for our undergraduate education--priorities we want the next president to take up. After this year's UC elections, I proposed coming up with a wish list for the coming year; now, I think another exercise in envisioning and articulating is in order.

If we don't start talking now about what we want from our future head honcho, we doom ourselves to complacency in what may be, as Francisco predicts, a continuation of the same old problems (does the corporation have the real power anyway?).

What do we want our new president to advocate for? What changes do we wish to see? (more in expanded post)

I, for one, agree with the aforementioned commentor that the continuation of financial aid improvement is a top priority. Students' financial situations make a huge difference in their Harvard experience--from feeling annoyed when peers casually discuss plans to jet-set to Paris for spring break, to having to work multiple jobs in order to get a head start on paying off loans. A president should be committed to recruiting low-income students and supporting them while they're here.

A new president should have more respect than Summers had for the social sciences. Desiring to improve the 'hard,' 'empirical' sciences is all well and good, but faculty in the humanities also deserve respect, attention, and support. Holding up the science departments as bastions of real truth while relegating humanities fields to a mere means of filling out a liberal arts education implies a dangerous tendency to ignore the ways that science is embedded in social practices (courses in the history of science department offer some fascinating perspectives on this).

A new president should seek innovative ways of building community among undergraduates, transforming the mosaic-style diversity of Harvard--where groups self-segregate and there are too few consistent attempts to bridge them--into a more mobile, fluid, kaleidoscopic diversity. Expanding social space, as the anonymous commentor noted, should be one of the new president's concerns, but so should capitalizing on what positive momentum was created by last year's summers scandal (whether or not you think it was blown out of proportion, the Women and Minorities Task force that was created as a result could become a major asset in promoting diversity among faculty in general and within certain departments specifically).

Finally, it seems to me that the both the FAS faculty and the new president will have to come up with more effective, satisfactory way of communicating. Maybe the problems had a lot to do with Summers' personality and style of interaction, but perhaps if the faculty had some mechanism for airing grievances before they grow so out-of-hand as to warrant a call for a no-confidence vote, it could create a more open relationship between faculty and administration so that the president doesn't have to be a bulldozer in order to get things done. Maybe I'm naive in thinking that this sort of improvement can be made, but it seems to me that a president should be able to persuasively advocate a vision for reforms while still being able to take faculty feedback into consideration.

Those who know more about this and all things Harvard than I do, please share some wisdom. What's on your wish list for the post-Summers era?

Different president, same shit

To go off Deb's point, why should the average Harvard college student care about Summers' resignation? While I think that Summers has been a bad president (weakening the Af-Am department, comments on women, etc.), I don't think that it matters that he has resigned because whoever replaces him will most likely follow the same policies. Who cares who the actual person in charge is, if Harvard remains the same. Is the same argument I have with folks who think that the problem with the American government is Bush. No, the problem with the American government is the American government, i.e. it's the system, not the person. If Bush died tomorrow, he would be replaced by Cheney and things would remain the same or get worse. Same principle applies to Larry Summers. A progressive President of Harvard University could accomplish a lot. Harvard is a leader (if not the leader) of American higher education. Harvard has played a leading role in monumental changes in the American college system, such as the SAT, but is any future president of Harvard really going to rock the boat like that? No. Therefore, why care? The personalities will be different, the policies are the same i.e. Allston campus still gets built and the residents screwed over, still no campus center, still an undemocratic governance structure, etc. Hopefully, whoever they find to permanently replace Larry will be better at PR. As long as the next president doesn't stick his (or her, but doubt the corporation would do that) foot in his mouth and continue doing what Larry was doing then he will be successful. That was Larry's only real mistake, saying stupid things and attracting too much media attention.

trans happenings, part 2

Another major upcoming trans-related event is actually part of a project I’m working on at the moment: the undergraduate production of Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues. While Ensler requires that all productions of her show include certain of her original monologues, she allows some wiggle room for the rest. This year’s undergraduate production (I specify undergraduate because the Divinity School did the show this year as well, performing it in a church and selling “God loves vaginas” t-shirts. Kudos to them!) will include three original monologues focusing on transgender people and their significant others, friends, family and allies (known in nifty shorthand as SOFFAs*). The pieces are based on anonymous email submissions that circulated over the BGLSTA list earlier this year; they’ve been adapted into monologues by a team of writers, directors, actresses and consultants.

Including transgendered characters in the show is interesting and important for a number of reasons, but one of the most striking statements it makes is that “The Vagina Monologues” is not synonymous with “The Woman Monologues” because not everyone who has a vagina is a woman. (more in expanded post)

The people working on the “trans monologues,” as they’ve come to be known, have faced an extremely difficult, delicate task. They needed to be able to convey the feelings and experiences of real people by turning them into characters. They had to stay close to the original words in order to honor their authenticity, yet make them theatrically powerful enough to resonate with audience members who have given little or no thought at all to transgenderism.

Also at issue was the question of who should perform the monologues. Some feel that it would be inappropriate to require that a transgender person play a transgender character—such a mandate would fly in the face of producers’ efforts to avoid typecasting in the show (for instance, a white actress, in character, recalls getting her period for the first time by saying the line, “Fifteen, black and poor, blood on the back of my dress in church.”). Others, however, feel strongly that trans actors must participate in the performance; otherwise, the production itself would be perpetuating a problem that one of the trans monologues points out: “talking about trans people like they’re not there.” Speaking on behalf of the voiceless is important, but only up until the point at which we can speak for ourselves. At a certain point, allies need to be able to step back and support, rather than represent.

Come out and see the show this Thursday, Friday, or Saturday and make up your own mind about the trans monologues (and just enjoy a great production). Tickets are $8 for students and always sell very fast, so stop by the box office soon! If you have any immediate thoughts, too, as always, we'd love to hear them.

*update: In a writing rush, I incorrectly wrote "SAFAs" instead of "SOFFAS" because I remembered what the acronym sounds like and its general gist, but couldn't remember what it stands for and meant to look it up later, but forgot. A guardian angel of sorts emailed me to correct my error. Thanks to them and to everyone for your patience and kindness.

And this matters to us because...?

Alongside Andrew's very on-top-of-it updating, I'd like to ask all of you some more wishy-washy questions. Why you think the average Harvard student should care about Summers resigning, why people do care, or why they don't? Apart from the peripheral (or perhaps not-so-peripheral) effects of Summers on the general Harvard image, I'm inclined to feel that there really won't be any real, immediate consequences on Joe Schmoe's day-to-day Harvard experience, but should there be? Should the students have a say in who sits in that Mass Hall office next fall? Or would that just be an extension of what some are suggesting is an undue power/influence that FAS has shown over the presidency of the entire University?

other exciting news: trans happenings, part 1

I mentioned a while back that issues of transgenderism would be big this year. Well, this week is a big week. On Monday night, members of the Harvard Trans Task Force (TTF) led a workshop on supporting and honoring the trans members of our community. But the workshop audience wasn’t just your typical BGLTSA crowd. The event took place immediately preceding a UC town hall meeting, and UC President John Haddock laudably sent out some emails to UC representatives encouraging them to attend the TTF workshop: (more in expanded post)
Mischa Feldstein and the BGLTSA have kindly offered to give the UC a special session "Trans Training 101" on Monday before our meeting. This is not a required activity, though I would encourage as many of you as possible to attend. I'm posting below some information about the session:
Trans 101: This is an excellent opportunity to hear Michael Greenspan, a knowledgeable transgender activist, talk about what it means to be transgender and how trans issues have shaped his life and can/do shape the lives of the students you represent. Transgender students at Harvard face a unique set of challenges, and this is a valuable chance to learn about those challenges and how we as community members and leaders can effect positive change. This training assumes only that you enter with an open mind.
Mischa emailed me and some others with some more information about the training--it sounded really wonderful; I was bummed I couldn't go:
This is an excellent opportunity to learn more about a relatively invisible minority here on campus. As leaders of campus organizations, all of you face the difficult task of serving the interests of the student body, yet there persists a general lack of knowledge and understanding of the needs and challenges specific to transgender communities on campus - communities that intersect with many of those that your organizations represent. The training will go over the basics - from what transgender means to a discussion of what it is like to be transgender at college.

Given the kind of heated controversy that often surrounds topics of queerness in the mainstream (not that queerness in queer-supportive communities and/or academia doesn’t have its share of pitched battles, too), isn’t it a little curious that John’s endorsement of this workshop training elicited not so much as a peep of protest? I cautiously take it as a good sign, but in all likelihood the silence is due to apathy, not assent.

Well, the Trans Task Force has a lot more exciting events in the works for this year, so the current silence won't last. I know I'm really excited for the potential for some intense dialogue...

did Bok prepare?

A great find from Vikram posted as a comment below (from Blue Mass. Group):
Derek Bok, who was Harvard's President from 1971-1991, will return to serve as interim President - perhaps this explains Bok's resignation as head of Common Cause last week. The timing seems a bit too close to be pure coincidence - Bok must have known Summers' resignation was coming.
Does this explain Larry decision to get out and going skiing for the weekend?

WHRB to play Summers resignation address

Now (8 pm) WHRB is going to play the speech Larry made from in front of Mass Hall this afternoon. You can tune in to 95.3 (if for some reason you still have a radio) or check it out at their website.

UPDATE: It's not on, so I guess throptalk was wrong or there's a delay...

UPDATE 2: It's on.

breaking: a protest and possible sit-in

It's official, Trombly and his crew (whoever they turn out to be) will be protesting next Tuesday's faculty club meeting and, if the faculty doesn't make its case, "adjourn to the Faculty Club and will remain there until an explanation is provided."

covering the coverage of my coverage of the coverage of the coverage

Good lord, all of this coverage is making me tired. I just got off the phone with a Boston Herald reporter who is writing a short story about Cambridge Common breaking the news. I tried to make it clear: all we did was cover the coverage to come. In any event, a few other Boston blogs have kind words for Cambridge Common in covering all of this (Universal Hub and Hub Blog) which are much appreciated. The word got out because Instapundit, one of the biggest blogs in the country, linked over to my first post. We even got a link up in TradeSports where people were betting on Larry's future.

Hub Blog sums it up best: it's not your father/mother's media anymore.

breaking? a sit-in?

Further proof that we now live in bizarroland: a conservative Editorial Exec at the Harvard Crimson, Drew Trombly, is promoting the idea of a sit-in at either the Faculty Club or Professor Judith Ryan's (an anti-Summers leader) office hours. He's posted the idea in our comments section and over at Summersville, and a few other active conservatives (Kavulla of the Crimson/Salient and Vivek Ramaswamy of the Harvard Political Union) are pubbing the idea on political email lists. Strangely I feel for their cause: while I'm not a big Summers fan the Faculty simply hasn't made an adequate public case for their revolt. That’s not to say that I don’t think it was warranted, but if the President of Harvard is resigning we should be able to point to an OpEd or a speech or something. Occassional quotes (anonymouse and otherwise) and random anecdotes are clearly not enough.

Even so, a sit-in would be hilarious and absurd, especially when the basis of the conservative critique of both lefties on campus and the faculty itself is an inability to deal "rationally" with serious issues. Part of me is rooting for it to happen, the other part of me is worried that only incredibly strong drugs would allow me to make it through the whole thing with my sanity intact.

liveblogging Larry

That's right, Garrett Dash Nelson over at Demapples is actually LIVEBLOGGING Larry Summers resignation speech. For so many reasons, we now officially live in bizarroland.

Summers emails campus

As I'm sure you all know, this email was just sent around to campus:
Dear Members of the Harvard Community,

I write to let you know that, after considerable reflection, I have notified the Harvard Corporation that I will resign as President of the University as of June 30, 2006. I will always be grateful for the opportunity to have served Harvard in this role, and I will treasure the continuing friendship and support of so many exceptional colleagues and students at Harvard.

Below are links to my letter to the community, as well as a letter from the members of the Corporation and a related news release.


Larry Summers


NYT piles on, breaks new news

The New York Times has finally chimed in with some new tidbits:
Lawrence H. Summers, the president of Harvard University, has decided to resign and is expected to make his decision public later today or tomorrow, three officials affiliated with the university said today.
Someone has finally gone past the two anonymous Wall Street Journal sources, so I think it's finally safe to say that the fat lady is singing loudly. Another interesting revelation:
Derek Bok, who served as president of Harvard from 1971 to 1991, and before that as dean of the law school, is expected to step in as interim president, starting in July, according to a university official.
A new president by next fall. Would the first female president of Harvard be too not subtle?

UPDATE 1:15 pm: The Crimson is now reporting the same thing.

my favorite response:

This is my favorite response yet to Summers resigning (from RedIvy):
A Sad Day
If the rumor mill is true, then tomorrow will go down in the annals of Harvard history as a truly sad day indeed. A moderate and effective President with many great ideas will be forced to resign by a group of very vocal socialist FAS professors that have hijacked this university, despite clear opposition from both the student body and the faculty of most of the graduate schools. It all started with a few innocent and completely appropriate comments made that were a little too much for the professors' vision of a socialist utopia embodied in Harvard. If we can be grateful for anything in this, it's that the pack of wolves who forced Summers out will have little or no say in who comes in next. Maybe our next president will help us to work towards giving them the boot, something that, I think we can all agree, is long overdue.
I honestly think that many Republicans are still fighting the Cold War, and I love it.

it's officialish?

It's funny, some have criticized (maybe fairly) this blog for feeding the rumor mill without hard facts. Then I read the Crimson story today: it's the same thing! No one but two Wall Street Journal anonymous sources seems to be able to confirm this thing. Until then, I will continue to report on reports of other people's reports.


As if this evening couldn't be any weirder, the Indy weighs in.


Some members of The Crimson are apparently livid with their leakers (which are, I assure you, numerous). An anonymous poster posted a line from an email to News-Talk that I found entertaining, for obvious reasons. Summersville picked it up: "crimeds never should have spoken to outside sources - especially not Andrew F-ing Golis." As fits with the pattern of the night, the entirety of that email was leaked to me about a half hour ago. It's below the fold. (more in expanded post)
---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Andrew Mark Trombly
Date: Feb 20, 2006 11:32 PM
Subject: RE: [NEWSTALK] Covering Summers' Resignation
To: Timothy John McGinn , Newstalk < newstalk-l@thecrimson.com>

Even (and especially) if the story hadn't been confirmed, crimeds never
should have spoken to outside sources - especially not Andrew F-ing Golis.
The way this story broke is unacceptable. It makes us look like fools when
the rumors are attributed to crimeds while The Crimson is refraining from
releasing the story. The rumor mill never would have started churning if
people had managed to keep their mouths shut.


-----Original Message-----
From: newstalk-l-bounces@magenta.thecrimson.com
[mailto:newstalk-l-bounces@magenta.thecrimson.com ] On Behalf Of Timothy John
Sent: Monday, February 20, 2006 11:23 PM
To: Newstalk
Subject: [NEWSTALK] Covering Summers' Resignation

Have we confirmed that Summers is resigning yet? (Some of the emails
that've been forwarded over newstalk would seem to suggest we
haven't.) I mean, if we haven't, that's one thing, but if we have,
wouldn't it have made more sense to do a web update with a first
write-through of the story as soon as we did? We could've controlled
the release of the story that way, before it leaked all over house
open lists and cambridge common and whatnot, and then published an
updated story tomorrow with student reaction. Obviously if we're
still trying to nail this down on the record the whole situation is
different, but I was just wondering...


looking for confirmation

Does anyone have Larry Summers phone number?

Monday, February 20, 2006

BREAKING: Summers is resigning

ORIGINAL POST: I have it from two sources at the Crimson, and it is now on the Adams house list, that Summers is resigning. Apparently the Crimson is leaking like a sieve. Either that or they're floating false information. You know what I know, but it looks like it's all over.

UPDATE: I just spoke to someone in the Crimson newroom who told me that they are in the process of writing the story as we speak and will be publishing it later tonight. The person also told me specifically that it was not a Lampoon Hoax. Again, just reporting what I know.


Travis Kavulla wrote this to GOP-Open:
Rumor has it that Larry Summers is resigning.

The Wall Street Journal is supposedly breaking the story tomorrow; The Crimson is looking for confirmation on the story.

From Currier-Wire (via Dems-Talk):
-------- Original Message --------
Subject: [CurrierWire] summers resigns
Date: Mon, 20 Feb 2006 22:59:32 -0500
From: Zak Tanjeloff

Yup. I called up a friend at the Crimson and said it's true. They have some legit sources apparently. From my understanding, the reason he is resigning is because the corporation has begun a dialogue with the faculty, something which it usually never does. It seems that the corporation was beginning to mull Summers future and thus, Larry thought it better to resign now then face another vote of no confidence and a potential reaction from the corporation.

Another possibility?
All this is a ploy to make money on in-trade stock. Larry isn't resigning tomorrow, I am sure of that. The stock on in-trade just went up from 72 to 99 dollars a share... and that happened only from the information from a few crimson people and Travis K. This is a classic case of insider trading and someone is going to get busted for it... mark my words, Summers doesn't resign tomorrow and someone makes a lot of money...
Of course, for that to be true Kavulla and Tanjeloff's friend and my sources would all have to be lying, which is possible, but would be kind of sad. I would bet that anonymous commenter is just worried about losing a lot of money, hence the watching the price.

Freedom to deny truth?

On the recent debate on freedom of expression prompted by the cartoons depicting Mohammed, what do you all think of this article, where a notorious Nazi-denier is sentenced to several years in prison? While we might feel that this is an extreme case, where do we draw the line between freedom of interpretation and something that should be punished by law?

summersgate links

As the Summersgate speculation reaches fever pitch, I thought I'd through a few links out there for any of you who, like me, have had to dig around to figure out what in the world is going on.

First, CampusTap is hosting an open discussion blog called Summersville. We'll have more news about CampusTap and Cambridge Common's future soon, but for now suffice to say the site is a cool new space for Harvard blogs.

Second, check out Richard Bradley's blogging on the whole thing. Bradley is the author of Harvard Rules, and is very much anti-Summers. He's also very thorough and collects all of the latest news on what's going on, whether you agree with his opinions or not.

There seems to be a growing consensus that Summers is done, what do you think?

The (Native) American Dream

If you saw this woman walking down the street would you think:

a) She is a model.

b) She is a teacher.

c) She is a sales clerk.

d) She is former $60,000/day-making drug dealer.

If you chose "d" then you are absolutely right. Today's NY Times contains a feature on this woman, Eugenia Phair, who is a Native American of the Lummi tribe in Washington and a former high-level drug trafficker. Take a few minutes and read the article on her life both pre, during, and post-drug trafficking. Any reactions?

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Unhand The Throne

Check out this Boston Globe article published today on the possibility of President Summers being removed from office by the Harvard Corporation in order to settle the ongoing dispute between him and the University. Seeing as how the faculty plans to have a vote of no confidence in him on February 28 the Globe states that the Corporation may "act quickly" to avoid what is expected to be a lopsided vote of no confidence. Throughout this time of President Summers being on the hot seat for controversy after controversy after controversy my main question in the midst of all this has been: why should any undergraduate care?

Do President Summers' statements have any impact on us as students at the University he presides over besides offending some of us (and does offending students and faculty justify his removal) What is this impact?

Does President Summers have a greater responsibility to students and faculty or to the Harvard Corporation and its shareholders (or to alumni? Staff)?

As has been previously suggested, a vote of no confidence from the student body directly or the UC representatively would mean...what? Please respond to any of these questions of you have opinions on them, informed public.