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Harvard president likens fundraising effort to freeing of slaves

CU123CU123 3614 replies69 threads Senior Member
Harvard president Larry Bacow in a meeting earlier this week used the 13th Amendment, which freed American slaves from bondage, to describe the university’s fundraising efforts and its relationship with wealthy donors.

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/harvard-president-likens-fundraising-effort-to-freeing-of-slaves/ar-AAHYUtr?ocid=spartanntp
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Replies to: Harvard president likens fundraising effort to freeing of slaves

  • EconPopEconPop 228 replies6 threads Junior Member
    "Bacow explained that that the university’s fundraising officials should help donors who may be interested in giving to schools where they had no prior affiliation."

    Definitely tone deaf and inappropriate. But that not the biggest problem. What bothers me is that it is such a lazy analogy. He came close (as in an asteroid coming "close" to the earth at 40 million miles) but he should have put another minute into crafting a better analogy.

    I chuckle when comparing how he must have felt when he came up with that part of his speech, with how he felt when someone told him how inappropriate it was.
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  • TomSrOfBostonTomSrOfBoston 14818 replies997 threads Senior Member
    @EconPop I find it odd that someone had to tell him it was inappropriate.
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  • EconPopEconPop 228 replies6 threads Junior Member
    edited September 29
    @TomSrOfBoston , in 2019 it is disappointing that the president of one of the top 5 universities would not have the cultural insight to know that.

    I don't think Bacow made the comment with any intended malice. However, his gaffe reinforces the concept that even well-intentioned culturally sensitive leaders have chunks of blindspots in their experience/actions/statements. It reinforces why some people feel that HBCUs are needed as much as ever before to provide a place where minority students can feel fully embraced, understood, and celebrated -- not all minority students need that comfort and support, but many do.

    If he could make such a statement while reading a prepared speech, I imagine he has made more insulting comments/opinions/expressions during day-to-day meetings. The more slip-ups he makes, the more empowered a less culturally-sensitive Harvard employee might feel -- the less welcome a minority Harvard employee might feel.
    edited September 29
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  • mathmommathmom 32459 replies159 threads Senior Member
    Ugh. So stupid. My son didn't like him when he was president of Tufts mostly because he refused to implement good Samaritan rules for drinking.
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  • NUJerseyDadNUJerseyDad 8 replies3 threads New Member
    edited October 21
    It was an unfortunate comment. But @EconPop, best not to speculate on the social graces of somebody you don't know. I do know Larry extremely well and he is one of the kindest, most sincere and most thoughtful people you'd ever meet. If you met him you'd probably be surprised at how little he says, because he spends most interpersonal encounters listening and asking questions rather than bloviating. We all say things that are regrettable and miss the mark. He is truly passionate about the future of higher education writ large, increased access and the lives of undergraduates. @mathmom: so sorry your college-aged son didn't like his university president, though I'm sure he had a very well-thought-out reason for not implementing good Samaritan rules, and probably spent a good amount of time hearing a variety of viewpoints on the issue.
    edited October 21
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