True Fact: In early February, 38 Harvard faculty members signed a letter criticizing the school’s misconduct-focused investigation of John Comaroff, a professor of anthropology. A week later, 34 of those signers wrote a second letter, retracting their support for the original letter. They said that they had “failed to appreciate the impact” that their first letter would have (Harvard Crimson, February 10th online).
This embarrassing episode proved to be just too much for Ina Howard-Hogan, First Justice of the Cambridge District Court in Massachusetts. She has ordered Harvard to suspend all 34 retractors, “until such time that every one of them has taken either the SAT or ACT to demonstrate that they’re smart enough to remain at Harvard.”
According to Judge Howard-Hogan, “Harvard prides itself on being the pinnacle of the meritocracy. Well, if you’re the smartest of the smart, how in the hell could you not anticipate the significant negative impact that your original letter would have? Perhaps you’re all suffering from early-onset something or other, I don’t know. But Harvard has a quality brand that it must protect, and you dunderheads have seriously threatened that brand. Now you need to show that you still have the intellectual wherewithal to rock your ivy-draped La-Z-Boys in a bastion of unparalleled privilege. For the love of God, you’re at Harvard, not the University of Phoenix or Dartmouth.”
As of February 24th, 31 of the 34 retractors indicated that they would comply with the judge’s order. The remaining 3, claiming that they perform poorly on standardized tests, have requested permission to submit portfolios of their work that include non-rhyming poetry and supportive letters from neighbors.