Yep, it’s true. Harvard plans to spend $100 million in an attempt to atone for its ties to slavery (Chronicle of Higher Education, April 26th online).
This is, without question, a big story. Lost in the fine print, however, is an even bigger one. Beginning in September, legacy students at Harvard will no longer be served dinner prior to non-legacy students in campus dining halls.
Since 1950, the offspring of Harvard parents have dined every day at 5:00 pm. After they finish their meal, cafeteria staff scrape the plates and serve the leftovers to non-legacy students at 7:00 pm.
According to Harvard President Lawrence Bacow, “second-shift diners have complained for decades that this practice makes them feel like second-class citizens. Our response has always been, ‘just be grateful that you’re at Harvard’.
“We now realize that such an attitude is hurtful. Non-legacy students are just as deserving as legacy ones, at least when it comes to meals. Of course, full equality between the two groups may not be desirable in the long run, but some change is clearly called for. As we like to say in Cambridge, ‘When the firm hand of the ruling class is guided by a benevolent heart, the result is social stability’.”
Inspiring words for these troubled times, to be sure.