Harvard profs slam DEI, call for reforms to enhance academic freedom

Harvard faculty members have raised concerns about the university's current woke culture and its emphasis on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) over academic freedom.

Professors Mark Ramseyer, Steven Pinker, and Jeffrey Flier have all criticized the school and proposed solutions to address issues of DEI, cancel culture, and censorship on campus.

Several distinguished Harvard faculty members have expressed disapproval of the university’s prevailing woke ideology on campus and raised concerns about a culture that allegedly prioritizes Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) over academic freedom.

“[T]here are many faculty who are concerned about what recent events say about Harvard’s integrity as a place of scholarship,” law professor J. Mark Ramseyer told The Washington Times.

Ramseyer directly critiqued Harvard’s DEI system in a recent email that was posted to X by professor Carole Hooven. 

“Harvard is a vastly less tolerant place than it was when I arrived in 1998,” he writes.

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Ramseyer attributed the rise in intolerance to “an increasingly large fraction of our colleagues” pushing the woke narrative and “the rest of us on the Harvard faculty [who] let it happen.” He specifically mentioned in his email “[t]he canceling, the punishments, the DEI bureaucracy, [and] the DEI statements.”

He concluded the email by declaring that “[w]e as a faculty failed” and praised Harvard alumni for “trying to rescue Harvard from what we let it become.”

Ramseyer is not the only Harvard faculty member who has criticized the university recently. On Dec. 11, Harvard psychology professor Steven Pinker authored a piece in The Boston Globe outlining what he called a “five-point plan to save Harvard from itself.”

Pinker wrote of “[n]otorious incidents of cancelation and censorship” and noted that “Harvard came in at last place in the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression’s Free Speech ranking out of 248 colleges, with a score of 0 out of 100.”

To remedy these problems, Pinker advocated for “disempowering DEI” as one of his five steps to saving Harvard. He wrote in the Globe: “Many of the assaults on academic freedom (not to mention common sense) come from a burgeoning bureaucracy that calls itself diversity, equity, and inclusion while enforcing a uniformity of opinion, a hierarchy of victim groups, and the exclusion of freethinkers.”

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Former dean of Harvard Medical School and current professor Jeffrey Flier also critiqued the university in an article published in Quillette on Dec. 23.

He wrote that cancel culture has been “amplified” by the expansion of DEI programs. He stated that, while DEI programs were initially established with good intentions, they have fostered self-censorship through speech codes that are “inconsistent with free expression.”

Campus Reform has contacted Harvard, and Professors Mark Ramseyer, Steven Pinker, and Jeffrey Flier for comment. This article will be updated accordingly.