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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.

16 Comments:

At 3:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, The Crimson is conducting a student poll about Larry, so we'll see soon enough what they think, for what that's worth.

 
At 4:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Harvard does not have any shareholders that I am aware of so I would think that Summers' "responsibility" should be to the students and to education. Why else does Harvard exist? The students should be the first priority of the Corporation and the Faculty as well. The Corporation has the responsibility of making sure that the governance of the University is running smoothly and one can only hope they are paying attention. In this case the faculty do not appear to think that they have responsibility to anyone.

 
At 4:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

seeing as how summers has driven various professors and administrators off of this campus, i'd say that undergraduates should care because it affects who is a part of this community.

 
At 4:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Above anon, I agree with you that the Corp and Faculty and Summers should be focusing on students and education, but they've never done that. This is a research institute and a brand, not a place for an undergraduate liberal arts education.

 
At 5:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

harvard may not have shareholders, but it has major donors who need to be kept happy...

 
At 9:02 PM, Blogger Jersey Slugger said...

To Anonymous at 4:24 pm - Why should Harvard undergraduates care who's a part of their community? The average Harvard student only interacts with, on the very high end, maybe 10% of the students at the college so what is the importance of the other 90% and/or their views on different issues? I want you to clarify yourself on that point because I feel that it might get to something crucial.

To Anonymous at 5:02 pm - Does the responsibility to keep the major donors happy supersede the responsibility of the University to keep its students and faculty happy? Anyone else have an answer to this inquiry?

 
At 11:09 PM, Anonymous ssachs said...

how does the President affect students? are you kidding me?

you can see my blog post on this for more details, but let's just say that just because he's not calling you on the phone to hang out, doesn't mean he doesn't affect you in some way or another. i went to college when rudenstine was president, and while i certainly didn't agree with him 100% of the time, it made a huge difference.

 
At 12:55 AM, Anonymous FASvote said...

Out of curiousity in gauging the student perspective on the confidence debacle, I have put together this online poll. I'd appreciate if you would check it out and even sign it, if you agree with it.

I feel that the faculty has hijacked the interests of our university, with the vigor and frenzy of an angry mob. I would like to see if other students feel similarly.

Also, it'd be great if CC could give this a front page link. ;)

http://www.petitiononline.com/FASvote/petition.html

 
At 12:57 AM, Blogger Jersey Slugger said...

OK, I see what you're saying on your blog about some those things related to faculty tenuring, financial aid, and the life. Those are valid points (keeping in mind that the President is not an autocrat on these things, however, and the decisions have numerous channels to get through besides the President. As you say in your blog, the President has "influence" over these things but is not necessarily the be-all, end-all "authority") but do you really think that the President influences town/gown relationship that much? Sure, on a Mayor-of-Cambridge to President-of-Harvard level but does the President have any influence on the relationship between me and the people who live along a tad bit further up Garden St. or the people down Mass. Ave. whose homes I walk by? Not at all.

 
At 2:01 AM, Blogger kavulla said...

The Crimson reports that only a very small minority of students lack confidence in Larry Summers and want him to resign (26.7% and 18.6%, respectively). A majority have confidence and want him to stay (54.8% and 57.1%).

http://www.thecrimson.com/article.aspx?ref=511421

 
At 10:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think that students are heavily influenced by the actions of the President. A President who can't ear the faculty's trust is a problem. First of all, working with faculty members who are unhappy/angry means faculty members who are less able to focus on our learning. Secondly, and what people aren't talking about here, is that faculty members have LEGITIMATE GRIEVANCES. Just go to the office hours of a few faculty members you know and actually talk about what they think of president Summers.

I did and now I feel like I understand a lot more of what's going on. And now I see it as effecting me.

 
At 11:12 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It seems like people are framing this poll as a sign of student confidence. Personally, I don't think that 75% of students having confidence in our president is a lot.

Over 25% of students say the lack confidence in our President. That's a lot of people who think he's not doing a good job. And that over 18% of students think he should resign is incredibly high!

 
At 11:58 AM, Blogger kavulla said...

Anonymous #1, your tactics are almost like the Faculty's. You loudly proclaim there are "LEGITIMATE GRIEVANCES" and then proceed to name exactly none. What are they?

Also, would you anonymous people stop posting under the 'anonymous' guise? I've been active in the 'blogosphere' for all of two months, and I'm already fed up by people's unwillingness to identify themselves and thus stand by the beliefs they articulate.

 
At 10:04 PM, Anonymous sarika bansal said...

Nneka Eze wrote the following to the FUP list, which I think is relevant:

My thoughts... Though i'm not going to dismiss the poll completely... The Crimson is really interesting... and I'm just not sure that a poll conducted with 400 students (out of maybe 6000) is indicative of how all students feel...

The Crimson took a lot of steps in the article to try to add some stature(?) or backing to it's poll (e.g. the consultations with the professors, the phrases "of the undergraduates surveyed" and "the respondents"...) - which shows some tendency toward good statistical reporting.

But at the same time a poll that has "slightly more males than females" (a 60-40 split) polled and that has 30% freshman...and is only polling 7% of undergrads... is just not that credible (to me at least).

yeah, it would be interesting to see a large poll (since in the grand scheme of things even 2000 pollees wouldn't be that hard to collect data for).

***

Oh, and I'm in complete agreement about the anonymous thing. At least pick a pseudonym so people don't have to say "Anonymous at 12:37am," which just gets kind of ridiculous after a while. Balls, people.

 
At 11:49 PM, Blogger Edward Lee said...

But at the same time a poll that has "slightly more males than females" (a 60-40 split) polled and that has 30% freshman...and is only polling 7% of undergrads... is just not that credible (to me at least).

7% of undergrads means what, 500 students out of 6600? That's actually a pretty goos sample size. The 60-40 male-female split is a bit problematic, if one thinks that the whole women not being as good at science thing from a year ago carries any residual stink.

 
At 12:03 AM, Blogger Edward Lee said...

Um, that should be a "good" sample size.

 

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