Female President Plagues UT of the North

Thanks to our intangible yet all-encompassing ‘it’ factor, which I duly reported on last semester, UT has recently gained currency as ‘the Harvard of the South.’ Notable attempts by my esteemed colleague to replace this sobriquet with ‘the Oxford of the South’ reflect nothing more than the severe biases of a barefaced Anglophile.

The truth is that, aside from a collective drinking problem, UT has little in common with Oxford, the city of dreaming spires. However, the parallels with Harvard’mdash;or ‘the UT of the North’ as Bostonians increasingly reference it’mdash;are uncanny.

John F. Kennedy may have spent four years at Harvard, but he’s spent over 40 years greeting visitors of UT. Harvard may have the Kennedy School of Government, but we have Kennedy Place’mdash;and the two buildings share much more in common than eye-catching architecture. Without even mentioning our schools’ respective academic achievements, it should be obvious that the futures of Harvard and UT are inextricably linked.

This is why all of us at UT should be acutely concerned with recent developments at our northern sister school. Despite the clear and prescient warning by former President Lawrence Summers, Harvard University has brazenly flouted all proper precedent and tradition by hiring a female to become the new University president.

Before I touch on the details of this tragedy, it is worth exculpating Dr. Summers from the condemnation of posterity by giving fair play to his remarks that should’ve preempted Harvard’s self-destructive impulse. At a 2005 conference of the National Bureau of Economics Research, Summers spoke of the ‘relatively clear evidence’ of innate variation in ‘overall IQ, mathematical ability, [and] scientific ability’ between men and women. This variation, Summers claimed, ‘probably explains a fair amount’ of the reason that women are underrepresented in the professional workforce of science and engineering.

Those who may dismiss such statements as the prejudiced ranting of an economist venturing way beyond the boundaries of his field of knowledge are missing the point. As if their sole purpose was to prove Summers right, Harvard not only hired a female but a female historian to serve as president.

This path, once charted, leads inexorably toward the abandonment of science and engineering, the predominance of liberal arts and the unabashed dictatorship of critical thinking on campus. If left unbridled, these feminine disciplines will create an aura so riddled with critical thought at Harvard that no one will even pay attention to specious and coarsely bogus statements such as the ones uttered by Dr. Summers. Such is the path where Harvard is headed; such is the path which we must avoid!

This July, Drew Gilpin Faust, the female historian, or as Summers calls her, ‘that history chick,’ will become the first female president in Harvard’s 371-year history. This should put things in perspective for us. Our school, barely 75 years old, is undoubtedly off to a great start; we’ve never had a female president, though hearsay and substantial anecdotal evidence suggests that 1960s President David M. Delo may have undergone a few pioneering operations.

But this success should spur vigilance rather than complacency and arrogance. The catastrophe that has befallen our twin college goes to show that several centuries of success can go up in flames with one bad decision.

Luckily, things aren’t as ominous for us. Our female population is still unorganized and largely apathetic. Our humanities, liberal arts, social sciences and all critical thinking disciplines are thankfully under-funded and neglected by our business-minded Board of Trustees. We’ve thus far been saved by our dominant Business School, which has and hopefully will continue to serve as an impregnable bulwark against any and all forms of critical thought.

But, as Harvard’s experience attests, we must keep on our guard. Things can go downhill quickly. Janet McNew, Barbara Strickler and Linda Devine are already insolently threatening to lead us to our demise, ‘agrave; la Faust. Once the door is opened for femininity and evaluative reasoning, the slippery slope has been traversed. Though we may mourn Harvard’s descent into ignominy, as the ‘Harvard of the South,’ we are bound to carry on the patriarchal torch that our sister school courageously bore for 371 years. May the patrilineal appointment of UT President hold good for generations to come. May the ‘Harvard of the South’ continue in our solemn duty, undeterred by the monumental lapse on the part of our northern twin!

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