To the Editor:
In his article, “From Prison to Ph.D.,” published last week in the New York Times, Eli Hager argued that Harvard University did not give Michelle Jones a fair review, owing to her criminal record.
Hager writes for the Marshall Project, an advocacy group that seeks to “create and sustain a sense of national urgency about the U.S. criminal justice system,” according to its website.
In developing his argument, Hager said that “top Harvard officials” rejected Jones’s admission “out of concern that her background would cause a backlash among rejected applicants, conservative news outlets, or parents of students.”
This is simply wrong. It misrepresents what I emphasized in my interview, which was that Jones’s Ph.D. application garnered widespread support, including my own, despite concern about possible backlash.
Hager further suggested that the memo my colleague, Daniel Carpenter, and I circulated was a highly unusual procedure. In fact it was standard procedure. In the past fifteen years, I have regularly contacted deans over questions I’ve had in admissions cases, and their feedback has been invaluable. In Jones’s case, while Professor Carpenter and I continued to support her candidacy, we noted some discrepancies that merited additional investigation.
Unlike Chelsea Manning, whose visiting fellowship was rescinded, Michelle Jones never received an admissions offer from Harvard. Jones’s case became front-page news only because the Marshall Project, which encourages leaks, received some, and then distorted facts in the service of its advocacy goal.
John Stauffer is the Sumner R. and Marshall S. Kates Professor of English and of African and African American Studies.
I-lab Managing Director To Depart
We Are Educators, Not ProsecutorsUniversities should set an example to follow. Instead of bowing to pressure, they should have the courage to take principled stances, especially when it is politically impractical to do so.
One and DoneHarvard should seek to be a bastion of redemptive justice, rather than overstep its boundaries as an academic institution by making paternalistic decisions.
Letter to the Editor: The Marshall Project Responds to Professor StaufferI sympathize with Professor John Stauffer, who has made himself a scapegoat in the case of Michelle Jones. But his letter to The Crimson is an attempt to blame the messenger.
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