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Harvard Undergraduate Council Endorses Removal of Gov 50 Instructor

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UPDATED: September 30, 2020, 3:36 p.m.

Harvard’s Undergraduate Council unanimously passed legislation in a Sunday meeting supporting the removal of Government preceptor David D. Kane from his teaching appointment and position as head advisor for the Data Science track within the Government department.

Dunster House representative and Council treasurer Noah A. Harris ’22 and Pforzheimer House representative Chloe E. V. Koulefianou ’23 sponsored the legislation; Currier House representative Fernando Urbina ’22 and the Council’s Black Caucus also co-sponsored the legislation. It called on the Council to endorse and sign a petition by students in Kane’s course, Government 50: “Data.” The petition urged the Government department to restructure the course to limit contact with Kane, offer support for students who decide to drop the course, terminate Kane’s teaching position, and reevaluate his position as Data Science track advisor.

“Whereas the Undergraduate Council’s Black Caucus stands in solidarity with students of David Kane and support[s] them in their endeavors to switch out of or restructure the class, be it therefore resolved that the Undergraduate Council sign this petition outlining the grievances and demands of current Gov 50 students,” the act read.

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Students have accused Kane of authoring racist posts over the years on his website, EphBlog, under the pseudonym “David Dudley Field ’25.” “Field” made one post on the blog signed “Dave Kane ’88.” Kane graduated from Williams College in 1988 and founded EphBlog in 2003, according to the website.

One post written by “Field” suggested that Black students at Williams College would not have been admitted if they were not Black; another urged Williams to cease involvement with QuestBridge — a program that allows qualifying students to apply to partner universities free of charge — to reduce the number of low-income students at the school.

When students confronted Kane with allegations of racism in a Slack channel for Gov 50, Kane denied the charges.

Kane did not respond to a request for comment from The Crimson on the recent legislation and petition. He also did not respond to a previous request for comment asking whether he authored the posts and for his response to the allegations.

Gov 50 student Alexis Queen ’23, a member of the Council’s Black Caucus, outlined the petition during the meeting.

“The purpose of the petition is that we want to demonstrate student support outside of Gov 50 for the removal of Kane and list demands to administration, with protections for those who wish to drop the course,” Queen said.

Queen also described the legislation as urgent, stating that petition organizers would soon meet with Dean of Undergraduate Education Amanda J. Claybaugh to discuss their demands.

The Council also discussed some potential issues around the legislation, such as doxxing and allegations of defamation.

“Because of the content of the blog and the nature of the issue, there's a big concern around doxxing of students who are working on this,” Queen said. “So we are looking for a way that doesn’t match one individual’s name for sending out this petition.”

Harris informed the Council of an anonymous tip about concerns over a defamation lawsuit related to the allegations.

“Considering none of these claims are false, the Black Caucus does not feel that we are in jeopardy there,” Harris said. “Everything here is well researched and documented.”

Koulefianou addressed the Council saying she believed it was important for the body to endorse the petition.

“We wanted to have a unified front and have the whole Council sign on,” she said.

The Government department is reviewing the allegations made against Kane. FAS Dean Claudine Gay wrote in a response to students who reached out with concerns that they will review both student complaints and the posts on EphBlog.

EphBlog has been inaccessible and set to “maintenance mode” since Friday night.

—Staff Writer Hannah J. Martinez can be reached at hannah.martinez@thecrimson.com. Follow her on Twitter @martinezhj.

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