After students alleged that Government department preceptor and Government 50: “Data” instructor David D. Kane authored racist posts on his website EphBlog, some of his fellow Harvard faculty members called the posts “horrible” and “deeply disturbing.”
Kane allegedly wrote the posts under the pseudonym “David Dudley Field ’25.” Entries posted by “Field” on EphBlog reference “Black Supremacy” in the NBA; claim that more than 90 percent of Black students at Williams College would not have been admitted if not for their “Black’ness” [sic]; and interrogate Williams College’s decision to condemn white supremacist group Identity Evropa without simultaneously condemning the Black Lives Matter and Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movements.
Kane did not respond to a request for comment for this article, or to multiple previous requests for comment from The Crimson regarding the allegations against him.
Joseph K. Blitzstein, a Statistics professor who serves as the department’s Dean of Undergraduate Studies, wrote in an email to concentrators Monday that faculty members in Statistics have been “disturbed and disgusted” by the allegations against Kane.
“We in Stat have been disturbed and disgusted by the recent information about David Kane and Gov 50, reported in The Crimson,” his email continued. “And the blog posts I read about are horrible.”
In response to the situation, Blitzstein wrote that the Statistics department would accept Gov 51 as a related course for concentrators currently in Gov 50.
“Normally Gov 51 does not count as a ‘related’ course since there is too much overlap with Stat 104, though there is still value in seeing some applications of statistics in government,” Blitzstein wrote. “We don’t want anyone to feel trapped in Gov 50.”
“Of course, the Government department should be fixing the problem, rather than the burden being on students to have to find a course to switch into,” his email continued. “I just read [link to Crimson article] and was impressed that the TFs basically offered to run the whole class, at least until a replacement instructor can be found. There is a large teaching staff and a lot of free online materials that they can work through with the students, though of course someone needs to be in charge.”
The Gov 50 course staff and Kane jointly agreed that Kane would temporarily stop lecturing in Gov 50, according to a Sunday email from course staff to students.
The announcement came a day after some teaching fellows wrote to their students proposing that they boycott Kane’s lectures and meet in private teaching sessions instead.
In an email to Gov 50 students later that day, Government department chair Jeffry A. Frieden called the teaching fellows’ proposal “completely inappropriate” and “unprofessional,” given their job positions. But Blitzstein wrote in his Monday email that he disagrees.
“To me it sounded like they were generously trying to find a solution to a terrible situation in which both the TFs and students are, very justifiably, uncomfortable continuing with Kane as instructor,” Blizstein wrote.
Frieden declined to comment on Blitzstein’s remarks.
Eric Beerbohm, a Government professor and Quincy House faculty dean, invited students in his house to a Monday night meeting to discuss the situation and its impact on them.
Beerbohm called the allegations “deeply disturbing.” He added that the incident “hits painfully close to home” as a member of the Government department and the chair of the Committee on Degrees in Social Studies.
“I’m probably feeling some of the emotions that students in the course and those hailing from the Government department are experiencing,” he wrote.
Beerbohm urged students in the course seeking “specific recommendations” to set up individualized advising meetings with Quincy’s resident dean and its Government tutor, among other house staff.
Harvard’s Government department is currently reviewing the allegations against Kane.
— Staff writer Kevin R. Chen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @kchenx.
— Staff writer Juliet E. Isselbacher can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @julietissel.