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Harvard Meritocracy: Now on the Overseer Ballot and on the Web
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I’m pleased to report that Harvard administrators yesterday informed us that our submitted petitions had contained sufficient valid alumni signatures that our names will appear on the forthcoming Overseer Ballot, and this morning the Harvard Crimson carried the story as their front-page lead article, appropriately titled “Unconventional Overseers Candidates Qualify for Ballot.”

We had had only a couple of weeks to obtain the necessary signatures, which required physical entry on Harvard-produced petitions, and with the major disruption of the huge East Coast storm, there were many times I doubted we could accomplish this urgent task. But we have now been successful, and our Free Harvard/Fair Harvard campaign is likely to provoke an intensive public debate over the next couple of months, regarding both tuition and admissions issues at America’s wealthiest and most prestigious university.

And if we win this debate, and a referendum vote by some 320,000 Harvard alumni elects us as Overseers on a platform of abolishing college tuition and increasing the transparency and fairness of the admissions process, I believe that there is an excellent chance that both these proposals will rapidly be implemented, with vast implications not only for Harvard itself but for many other universities, especially the more elite ones. It is possible that the near future will see sweeping changes in American higher education greater than any over the last few decades.

 

Meanwhile, as a means of presenting more convenient and timely information on our campaign and the issues we are raising, we have also just released our simple but utilitarian website, summarizing our positions and also providing an ongoing compendium of the media coverage, both friendly and hostile, that has provided a nuanced explication of our positions:

www.FreeHarvard.org

 
• Category: Economics • Tags: Meritocracy 
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  1. Congratulations on making it so far.

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  2. OutWest says:

    Is there an important underlying question? Harvard has an outsized endowment because a significant portion of its student body arrives with the resources able to and a culture of high rates of contribution to sustain such endowment? Would a more diverse alumni group do so? Perhaps the endowment is sufficient to be self-sustaining with diminished contributions –it’s certainly substantial. But it is the product of a successful elitist system.

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    • Replies: @Alec Leamas
    Well, the size of the endowment is probably a function of the fact that the college was founded in the early 1600s with an initial significant contribution from John Harvard of cash and a library, allowing it to grow exponentially for a very long time.

    That said, no doubt the phenomenon of wealthy alums competing in a vanity sweepstakes to show off their wealth with contributions and/or named gifts has augmented the endowment.

    Back to John Harvard - it was my understanding that his gift was expressly for the purpose of educating the clergy. I wonder how assiduously John Harvard's "restriction" has been enforced?
  3. Svigor says:

    IQ fetishism in dog-watchers is getting old. Big Five personality traits matter too, you know.

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  4. Mark Green says: • Website

    Congratulations, Ron. You’re making progress! How this plays out remains anyone’s guess however. There are a lot of powerful people in and around Harvard who don’t want their kingdom messed with. This could get very interesting. Let’s hope so!

    At the very least, I hope that you manage to kick up some dust, turn up the heat, and shed some light.

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  5. Ron, I was able to get only two signatures for you because of Snowzilla. Hope they helped.

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  6. @OutWest
    Is there an important underlying question? Harvard has an outsized endowment because a significant portion of its student body arrives with the resources able to and a culture of high rates of contribution to sustain such endowment? Would a more diverse alumni group do so? Perhaps the endowment is sufficient to be self-sustaining with diminished contributions –it’s certainly substantial. But it is the product of a successful elitist system.

    Well, the size of the endowment is probably a function of the fact that the college was founded in the early 1600s with an initial significant contribution from John Harvard of cash and a library, allowing it to grow exponentially for a very long time.

    That said, no doubt the phenomenon of wealthy alums competing in a vanity sweepstakes to show off their wealth with contributions and/or named gifts has augmented the endowment.

    Back to John Harvard – it was my understanding that his gift was expressly for the purpose of educating the clergy. I wonder how assiduously John Harvard’s “restriction” has been enforced?

    Read More
  7. Anonymous says: • Disclaimer

    You guys are my heroes.

    I hope that one day I can achieve success and influence to the degree that you five have achieved individually, as academics, activists, businessmen and writers, and will achieve together in this campaign.

    Read More
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