Harvard dean expresses regret over handling of The Harbus

MASSACHUSETTS — The dean of Harvard University’sbusiness school has expressed regret for criticizing the editor of the studentnewspaper, The Harbus, for running an editorial cartoon that lampoonedthe school’s Career Link Program. Last fall, Harvard Business SchoolDean Kim B. Clark, along with other administrators, gave Harbus editorNick Will a verbal warning for the cartoon, which they said violated a communitystandards code. Will resigned from his position to “avoid personal risk” afterreceiving the verbal warning, which is considered the first step in thedisciplinary process. Will said Harvard officials had personally intimidated andthreatened him.Run through Harvard’s career services department, theCareer Link Program was supposed to allow M.B.A. student to schedule jobinterviews online with businesses recruiting on campus, but it was “plagued withtechnical problems.” The Harbus published an editorial cartoon in itsOct. 28 edition that depicted a computer monitor overrun with error messages,including a two-word statement, “incompetent morons,” which administratorsbelieved was directed at the school’s career services employees.In aletter sent to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education on Jan. 2,Clark said he regrets that the “recent events” might have caused people to doubtthe administration’s commitment to “freedom of speech and in the independence ofthe Harbus.” He said he has met with students, faculty, staff and alumnito publicly reaffirm that commitment.”The clash of ideas, ideals, andvalues is an integral part of an academic environment, where people fromextraordinary diverse backgrounds come together to test new concepts and stretchthe boundaries of knowledge,” Clark wrote in his letter to FIRE, a nonprofiteducational foundation devoted to First Amendment issues. “I am confident wehave learned from our recent experience, strengthened our commitment to freediscourse and underscored its importance in preserving the vitality of ourcommunity.”On Nov. 19, Alan Charles Kors and Harvey A. Silverglate, theco-directors of FIRE, wrote to Dean Clark to protest his administration’sintimidation of The Harbus. They said they welcomed the dean’s response.”The dean admitted error and committed himself to making [HarvardBusiness School] an appropriate haven for freedom of expression.”DerekMendez, who took over as Harbus editor when Will resigned, gaveinsightful remarks on the situation during an editorial inDecember.”Here’s one thought I’d like everyone … to sleep on: Learnto give — and take — criticism as a means for improvement, not as aninsult,” he said.

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