The Ivy Coach Daily
February 6, 2024
A Look Back at Harvard’s Actions Against Antisemitism: Then vs. Now
Previously Published on June 18, 2019:
Harvard University has been in the news of late for all the wrong reasons. After the October 2023 Hamas terrorist attack against Israel, many Harvard students — through their antisemitic chants, rhetoric, and, at times, intimidation — have made members of Harvard’s Jewish community feel very uncomfortable on campus.
The school’s then-president, Claudine Gay, in testimony before Congress, when asked if Harvard students publicly calling for the genocide of Jews constituted harassment in violation of Harvard’s policies, asserted, “It depends on the context.“ Her despicable comments and an ensuing plagiarism scandal soon led to her resignation (which didn’t come a day too soon!) and one of the darkest times in the university’s history.
Harvard Has Taken Action Against Antisemitic Rhetoric in the Past
But, before Claudine Gay led Harvard’s community, the Ivy League school had taken action against hate speech, revoking offers of admission to students caught expressing antisemitic rhetoric. In 2017, Harvard rescinded the admission of at least ten students for sharing obscene memes, which included some that mocked the Holocaust. And, in 2019, Harvard rescinded the admission of a student who survived the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School for making antisemitic comments.
As a reminder to Harvard of what the university can do and what they should do when students express such hate, we thought we’d share the story of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas graduate whose admission to Harvard was rescinded back in 2019.
Contrary to assertions at the time, the student’s admission was not rescinded because of his pro-gun stance. In fact, he wrote about his pro-gun stance in his Common Application Personal Statement. Like all highly selective universities, Harvard appreciates diverse perspectives, including on gun rights. Harvard was fully aware of his conservative stance on the Second Amendment when they offered him admission. No, his admission was rescinded because he made racist, antisemitic, and sexist comments, comments we will not further spotlight on the pages of this college admissions blog.
Ivy Coach Commended Harvard for Acting Against Antisemitism
At the time, Brian Taylor, the managing partner of Ivy Coach, was interviewed by The Jewish Telegraphic Agency and he asserted that he understood why Harvard, a school that historically discriminated against Jewish applicants through the use of quotas, revoked his admission. When the school’s admission rate is in the low single digits, there’s no need to earmark a slot for anyone who makes any such racist, antisemitic, or sexist comments. But Taylor also asserted that the student had issued an unequivocal, heartfelt apology for his past horrific statements and that it would not have been unreasonable for Harvard to forgive the student and use it as an opportunity to educate him further.
Harvard Should Return to Taking Action Against Antisemitism
But Harvard’s longtime Dean of Admissions & Financial Aid, William Fitzsimmons, made a determination — which we believe was quite justified — to rescind this student’s admission. He took definitive action when he learned of a student’s misdeeds. Frankly, we wish Harvard‘s administration would follow Dean Fitzsimmons’ example by taking such clear action when its current students express similar hateful rhetoric on the Ivy League campus. May the story of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas student’s revoked admission serve as reminder to Harvard that they hold the power to protect their students from repugnant hate and to hold their students accountable when they commit acts of hate.
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