On Harvard’s Anti-Semitic Legacy

This despicable former Harvard president used his power to exclude Jewish students from the university.

Recently, we wrote a blog that shined a lantern on an article in The Forward by Mitchell Bard entitled “It’s Time for Harvard to Reckon with Its Anti-Semitic Legacy.” The piece in The Forward focuses on a former Harvard president, A. Lawrence Lowell, who instituted quotas in Harvard’s admissions process so as to limit the number of Jewish students at the university during his tenure which ran from 1909-1933. Now, loyal readers of our college admissions blog may remember this former Harvard president’s name as we’ve made a point over the years of detailing how this man went out of his way to discriminate against Jewish applicants in the admissions process. But until reading Mr. Bard’s piece, we didn’t realize that Harvard — on its own website — left out any mention of Lowell’s anti-Semitism and how the policies that he enacted as president led to the systematic exclusion of Jewish students from the university. Instead, the university just praises the man in its intensely curated biography. In fact, Harvard goes so far as to write, “During World War I when anti-German sentiment ran high, Lowell fiercely defended academic freedom, resisting pressure to fire Psychology Professor Hugo Münsterberg for speaking well of his native Germany.” Yes, you read that correctly.

After reading Mr. Bard’s piece, we called on Harvard to — among other things — alter Lowell’s biography so as to reveal a more complete story about this former university president rather than a curated version of his story that neglects any mention of how his anti-Semitism shaped Harvard’s admissions practices. We felt the request was innocuous enough. After all, Harvard is one of our world’s greatest examples of academic freedom. The school is, in many ways, a bastion of free thought. Surely the school (and its renowned history professors) are aware that history is recorded by human beings and these human beings have the power — and moral obligation — to shape our history so it tells the truest story. But what we didn’t expect were anti-Semitic tirades from some of our readers.

Anti-Semitism is Alive and Well — Just Read Our Blog’s Comments

Ladies, gentlemen, and high school students, if you were wondering if anti-Semitism is alive and well in America, just read the Comments section to our recent post on Lowell. As but one example, in a longwinded diatribe (please excuse the typos), a writer named Priya Amin writes, “Nobody has ever heard of this man Lowell except some people at Harvard- and you. Nobody cares about him – including me. I just do not like this revision of history anywhere at any time. Furthermore, this man was president 100 years ago! Get over it!…And if you want to be ABSOLUTELY fair, why not tell your readers about the incredible PRIVILEGE Jews are and have been receiving in admissions to Harvard today and rest of the Ivies and for the last half century? SOMEBODY at Harvard is using Jewish quotas in REVERSE- by giving them FAR more slots than they deserve. And they are not graduating with high honors commensurate with their percentages of the overall student population either. That shows an incredible bias FOR the Jews. Whatever discrimination Jews were victims of eons ago, they certainly have reversed the roles now!”

In a previous post, we wrote about the declining number of Jewish students at Ivy League schools, and a commenter by the name of Bill Radulovic wrote in, “Ivy Coach, solely owned by Jews, is proposing that Jews, whom are GROSSLY overrepresented at the Ivies, take away MORE spots from the Underrepresented Minorities at the Ivy League to make room for them. Because if Ivy Coach wants more Jews in the Ivies, some other demographic group will have to lose to make room. So which group is it?”

We Will Never Stay Quiet When We See An Injustice

Another commenter recently wrote in that we’re being too political, that we’re a business and that by asserting our opinion on Harvard’s duty to reckon with its anti-Semitic legacy, we’re only going to turn away potential clients. In fact, this same commenter mentioned that we turned him away. And do you know what we say to that? Good! When we see an injustice, we will never stay quiet. If a school is discriminating against LGBTQ applicants, we will speak up. If a school is discriminating against black or African American applicants, we will speak up. If a school posts a biography of its former president that fails to include his well-documented actions that facilitated the discrimination of Jewish applicants in admissions, we will speak up. We will never remain silent.

You see, our college admissions blog is not intended to generate business. Rather, our college admissions blog is intended to spark conversation on topics relevant to highly selective college admissions, including both the roots and the future of the admissions process. Our college admissions blog is our soapbox to call out an injustice at our nation’s elite schools when we see it — whether people like it or not. Contrary to the hate spewed by Ms. Amin when she wrote, “Whatever discrimination Jews were victims of eons ago, they certainly have reversed the roles now!”, our Jewish relatives were not killed in Nazi concentration camps eons ago nor have we forgotten their names and so when we see hatred against any group and when we see a rewriting of history, we will never be shy to lift our voices.

 
 

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1 Comment

  • Anon says:

    But folks, good ole Ivy Coach won’t speak up if you are a White Christian Male because even if they are poor and from Appalachia, that’s ok!

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