Friday, March 18, 2005

And We Think our Administration has Problems...

Blogging has been light the last two days because of finals and a quick trip down to Boston to see friends. This meant that I was at Harvard when the news of the faculty vote of no confidence in Larry Summers broke. In a vote of 218- 185, the faculty of the School of Arts and Sciences expressed symbolically their dissatisfaction with Summers, his leadership style, and the direction in which he is taking the school. Despite this vote, however, the Harvard Corporation, the school's governing body, announced their support for Summers, so there is no official pressure for him to resign.

While I was on campus, however, and talking to students, the general mood seemed to be not one of anger with Summers but a general sense of fatigue with a process that seems to have dragged on too long. Even those students who were initially upset by Summers' comments seem to have tired of the debate. Facebook groups (the ultimate arbiter of campus sentiment) have sprung up in favor of Summers, and anger is being redirected towards the faculty who have continued to put Harvard in the national spotlight. To paraphrase one friend, who took a class with Summers last year, the faculty can walk and try to find better jobs elsewhere if they're really that upset, the implication being they'd be hard-pressed to do so.

Ultimately, as I'd posted earlier, the scope of this debate and its national prominence seems to be an unwanted result of Harvard's reputation. Dartmouth has experienced a little of this with the Trustee Election, which has been mentioned in a few national publications. However, as important as the Trustee Election may seem to Dartmouth student, faculty, and alums, it really is not as "sexy" an issue. "Dartmouth Prof Campaigns Against Candidates" does not have the same ring as "Harvard President is Chauvinistic." This, however, is not a bad thing, since it confines the debate to those it actually affects, and prevents what should be a College issue from being a national one.


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