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Tuesday, February 21, 2006

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.


At 11:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm afraid your apathetic view of leadership comes off more as ignorant than anything else. You will find few that share your existential view that nothing at Harvard will ever change. Who are you to say that there will never be another Conant or Eliot? You can't tell the future, and neither can I. Just because you feel disenchanted with the way Harvard is currently run, there is no reason to dismiss the future as inevitably the same. To extend this to your deeply flawed government analogy: 8 years ago, under Clinton, would you have predicted we would soon be fighting insurgencies in two "freed" Middle-Eastern nations?
In short: A single person, highly motivated and concerned, can make all the difference.

At 12:13 AM, Blogger Jersey Slugger said...

If you're insinutating that Bush is the real person that has been pushing for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan...

At 12:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bush got everybody(Presidents) hired at CIA because of the Plame leaking the WMD courses. Maybe he'll hire this President too?

At 11:40 AM, Blogger Shai Davis said...

I wish you were right on this, Francisco. My suspicion is that Summers will be replaced by a wimp -- a very well-spoken one, sure. He or she will have no real vision, no backbone to speak of, and no authority over the faculty or administration (what with the perpetual threat of no-confidence votes and such).

I do not mean to imply that Summers was by any means a godsend, but he had the qualities of strong leadership which, I think, were the very qualities that rubbed the faculty (and their egos) the wrong way.

The Corporation will be eager to avoid this sort of debacle in the future and will likely acquiesce to the demands of the faculty - namely, that the new president hold significantly less authority.

She or he will be hired to maintain and "stay the course" rather than be bold and visionary. I don't imagine that this president will achieve much of anything as long as this continues.


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