Has Harvard finally dropped its pronoun obsession? A glimpse into recent changes

December 19, 2023

By Tim Worstall

Harvard seems to have lost its pronouns. Or perhaps more accurately, Harvard seems to have lost its obsession with pronouns. This would be a welcome reconnection with some sort of reality, but there’s almost certainly a long way to go.

 The original observations come from Paul Thacker, who used to be at the Safra Ethics Center at, yes, Harvard: 

Harvard has dramatically modified its Diversity, Equity Inclusion office. And disappeared their webpage for pronouns.

We can see this by searching their page, and we end up here. Rather than formerly, here, which is where all that indulging in xe and xir used to take place.

Some modification of DEI offices is welcome, although not as welcome as their abolition. Oklahoma has just announced for the state-funded colleges, as Florida is having a darn good go at. There are two problems with the ideas. 

The first is that an obsession with trivial details militates against the actual purpose of a college,m which is to educate. That is, the aim is not for you to define, in ever greater detail, what you think you are but to find out who you can be by learning more. So, a navel-gazing obsession with the details of the student just isn’t the purpose of the place at all.

The second is the whole idea of DEI itself. Again, the aim is to educate, and for the faculty to investigate and research. These aren’t things necessarily advanced by all being equal – the very idea of a college professor knowing more than their students is, in itself, inequitable – and diversity of opinion is valuable here, but that’s precisely what college diversity doesn’t mean. That means many different types of people, all with the same beliefs.

The reason we’ve got further to go is this noted by both Bill Ackman and Elon Musk. How Harvard’s President, Claudine Gay, climbed to the top on the back of the DEI empire. Leave aside the plagiarism claims in her research work and Ph.D. She’s not, in fact, an outstanding scholar in either the volume or findings of her research. She is president of Harvard and got there by climbing the educational bureaucracy, which is why the educational bureaucracy carries her stamp. 

It is also that educational bureaucracy that needs to be changed, as we’ve been saying. Gay is the creator, beneficiary, and enforcer of that system that elevates DEI – modern wokeness – above the more traditional educational merits of free inquiry and following the evidence where it leads. That’s on the research side, and over on the education side, is the idea of educating students rather than pandering to them.

That is why Gay must go, of course. We can already see that Harvard is changing its ways – perhaps only baby steps as yet – due to the pressure being put upon them. More pressure will mean more change, and if we all keep this up, then elite academia might manage some return to a connection with reality. After all, that is what we hope a university will do. On the one side, research reality; on the other, teach the young about it.

So, let’s keep going until we achieve that. Those who built the current system have to go so we can regain the system that actually works at the job of what a college is and should be.


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