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So, I'm sure you guys saw that Harvard took back their fellowship offer to Chelsea Manning. One commentator I was listening to said that we should all stop supporting Harvard, stop applying. They said that Harvard was effectively controlled by the government, because they listened to the criticism of the CIA. It got me thinking. Are there any schools you won't apply to because of something controversial they've done? Is it right to blame an entire institution? For example, with Charlottesville, are any of you not considering the University of Virginia because of the Neo-Nazi demonstrations? Or, have any of you decided not to apply to Penn State because of the years that the school spent covering up for Jerry Sandusky?

Edited by JessicaLange
wrong institution
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For myself, I would not apply to an institution, only if that institution advocates and adopts an extremist policy--such as prohibiting free speech for example.  In Chelsea Manning's case, HKS offered the fellowship and then rescinded the offer.  It originated and ended within HKS, not Harvard University writ large.  Critics of Manning made a case he/she was a convicted felon.  Without additional evidence, it is impossible to determine the HKS' rationale for their decision--whether or not it was warranted.  If I was interested in applying to the history PhD program at Harvard's GSAS, I wouldn't care what HKS did.  What is more concerning for me is whether the politics or culture of the history department fits with my personality, or whether the program is a good fit.  Graduate study within your specialty is a small world, within the larger universe of the university.  YMMV. 

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22 minutes ago, ltr317 said:

he/she

Don't do that. If you've taken the time to look up the grievances against Manning, then you've seen that she uses feminine pronouns.

 

But, I understand your point and I tend to think in the same way. It makes a difference if it's an institutional issue or if it's a smaller division of the university.

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I think if someone begins looking at a university's political policies as grounds for applying or not applying, rather than fit of the program, then for the rest of their life, that person is going to have real issues in the world. The U.S. is simply too diverse on every topic. I welcome diverse ideas and discussions, especially as an Americanist because we don't live in a vacuum and neither did the writers whose works we study. I would be very unhappy to learn that everyone in a department was either all left or right leaning. The world is not like that and the workplace in America is definitely not like that. 

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I doubt this has much to do with  other divisions of Harvard, even if there was a phone call from the President's office over to the Dean.  

It does probably tell you something about the K School, though.   They tend to be interested in power and its sources the way the B School is interested in money.

Edited by Concordia
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7 hours ago, cowgirlsdontcry said:

I think if someone begins looking at a university's political policies as grounds for applying or not applying, rather than fit of the program, then for the rest of their life, that person is going to have real issues in the world. The U.S. is simply too diverse on every topic. I welcome diverse ideas and discussions, especially as an Americanist because we don't live in a vacuum and neither did the writers whose works we study. I would be very unhappy to learn that everyone in a department was either all left or right leaning. The world is not like that and the workplace in America is definitely not like that. 

I tend to fall into this school of thought - I did my MA at UVA and, while I didn't enjoy living in Charlottesville and don't agree with Sullivan's/The University's statements on recent events, that's not my reasoning for not applying to UVA again. "Fit," as @cowgirlsdontcry notes, is key - if a department is misaligned enough with my academic or personal requirements, I'll pass on them. Looking past that and toward the university at-large is, while certainly worthwhile, definitely challenging - I'd guess many big policies are problematic in some sense. It's a good thing to be aware and to be ready to demand change, though.

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44 minutes ago, Yanaka said:

I just learned Trump went to U Penn (Wharton School for business). I needed to share that dreadful info with someone.

He transferred to Penn for the last two years--reportedly helped by a friendly admissions officer who was a high school chum of Trump's older brother.  He spent the first two years at Fordham U, reportedly majoring in golf.  :rolleyes:  He was not a good student at either university. 

Edited by ltr317
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13 hours ago, ltr317 said:

He transferred to Penn for the last two years--reportedly helped by a friendly admissions officer who was a high school chum of Trump's older brother.  He spent the first two years at Fordham U, reportedly majoring in golf.  :rolleyes:  He was not a good student at either university. 

Interesting. But still! Ew! 

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Almost every school has had a major controversy or ties to controversial figures, so where to even begin? I don't think you'll ever find a university that's "pure" or "unproblematic." I could understand not applying to a certain school out of a need for self-preservation--like if they had a reputation for being unwelcoming of people of my identity. But beyond that, my mileage would vary by the situation. Obviously you don't want the name attached to your PhD to be one that people associate with massive scandal ... but I can say that in higher ed circles no one looks askance at someone with a PhD from Penn State because of Jerry Sandusky, and no one looking to hire you is going to be turned off by your PhD from Penn because Trump graduated from there. 

When it comes to applying for jobs, I'm picky. I do not apply for jobs at schools with discriminatory practices informed by religion ... and there are actually a lot out there. Every year, several schools post ads where they specify that if you take a job at their university you must sign their "faith statement," and those faith statements often use exclusionary language against LGBT people or non-Christians. Some even prohibit drinking. I don't apply to those jobs and don't give them a second thought. 

Edited by Bumblebea
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  • 3 weeks later...
On 9/16/2017 at 9:51 PM, JessicaLange said:

Are there any schools you won't apply to because of something controversial they've done?

No. Every school has its sins and controversies. I might disagree with one of the school's positions on an issue, but that's no reason to avoid the school altogether. I disapprove of Harvard allowing a leaker of classified information into it's program. But I also disapprove of Berkeley's position on the Ben Shapiro fiasco. These are still great schools with great research facilities. We should act like adults who can handle criticism toward our interests and not like children who weep for the safe space of Mommy's arms every time they get their feelings hurt.

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I would be a lot more inclined to avoid a department that had been embroiled in scandal than a university as a whole. If I studied public policy, the Chelsea Manning thing would quite possibly stay my application to Harvard's Kennedy School. If I studied chemistry, though? I don't see that leading me to avoid the Harvard chemistry department. Universities are too big to find one that's entirely "pure." On the other hand, departments are small enough that you should probably be able to avoid one nationally known for its toxic atmosphere! Purity is a tough ask, but avoiding the most scandal-ridden programs in your field should be feasible.

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Chelsea Manning was also banned from entering Canada, so I hope OP isn't applying to any Canadian institutions or intending to spend any money or time on that dictatorial police state. I have a lot of sympathy for Manning because of the path she chose, but let's not kid ourselves that "not supporting Harvard" is going to be the vast systemic change needed to uproot nation-states. Harvard is an institution within an institution, and it is that higher institution that she pissed off.

If you're not applying to UVa because of Charlottesville, I have bad news for you about universities in, like, half of the country. Which is to say, maybe it's a good idea not to apply there, especially if you're POC or otherwise visibly marginalized, for your own physical safety.

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I have a similar issue that I've been struggling with while working on applications. As a woman, I've been going back and forth about applying to schools with significant problems regarding Title IX and indifference to sexual assault accusations. Two of my top choices dealt with this publicly last year and I am coming from an undergraduate institution with significant problems in this area of its own. For now, I'm putting in applications, but, if accepted, it will be a very long process to determine if it will affect my ability to attend. However, I'm also no longer applying to HKS because of the Chelsea Manning incident.

Edited by virgogrl56
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  • 4 weeks later...
On 10/19/2017 at 5:07 PM, ExponentialDecay said:

Chelsea Manning was also banned from entering Canada, so I hope OP isn't applying to any Canadian institutions or intending to spend any money or time on that dictatorial police state

 

Just to clarify, I just heard someone say this and I thought it was an interesting topic in a general sense. I have thoughts about Chelsea Manning, but would not personally make any decision about a school based on their positive or negative treatment of her. She was not my point. But I think you need to look at a school and assess its values and see if any of them really contradict your own. It's not about safe spaces as JKL said. I've never experienced safe spaces the way TV hosts and columnists discuss them. But, I understand that I am not always welcome and I don't want to waste my time, money, and effort applying to or attending a school that does not support me. I'm lucky to be applying in 2017/18 when most of the big/top schools are LGBT friendly, but if any of them were systematically mistreating queer individuals, I would cross them off of my list.

 

Anyway, I thought it was an interesting topic. Sorry to see how sarcastic and rude the comments got.

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I apologize for being rude. It's just that so few people make it into Harvard's grad programs that boycotting it rings a bit hollow to me. Perhaps it isn't. I think the ballsy move would be to apply to it, get in, and then turn down the offer because of your beliefs.

That said, I'd probably apply to Harvard on principle because they took back the fellowship offer for Manning.

But I'm sorry for the tone of my original comment.

Edited by heliogabalus
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  • 2 weeks later...

Have y’all heard about everything going on with Stanford? It’s the English dept specifically, and Moretti no less.... 

The deadline is Tuesday and I’m seriously wondering if I could work in a place where everyone knew their colleague was behaving in a predatory manner? But at the same time, a boycott does feel kind of pointless 

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15 hours ago, la_mod said:

Have y’all heard about everything going on with Stanford? It’s the English dept specifically, and Moretti no less.... 

The deadline is Tuesday and I’m seriously wondering if I could work in a place where everyone knew their colleague was behaving in a predatory manner? But at the same time, a boycott does feel kind of pointless 

If you're concerned about the culture of Stanford's English department and how that might impact you, I would reach out to multiple female graduate students. Of course, there's always the possibility that they might not want to talk about it for fear of retaliation or for other personal reasons, but I imagine most will give you at least a general impression.

It's also worth mentioning that institutional silence about faculty sexual harassment and assault has as much to do with the power dynamics endemic to the academic workplace (e.g. the shield of tenure, the mentor-mentee structure of faculty-grad student relationships, the faculty exploitation of our affective attachments to our work, the gender disparity between faculty and grad student populations -- I could go on) as it has to do with local departmental culture. This is all to say what most of us already know: academia is still very much masculinist at best, misogynist at worst. Some places are better than others, but it's a problem common across most, if not all, English departments, and not just isolated to a few.

 

Edited by lesabendio
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On 11/30/2017 at 11:55 PM, la_mod said:

Have y’all heard about everything going on with Stanford? It’s the English dept specifically, and Moretti no less.... 

The deadline is Tuesday and I’m seriously wondering if I could work in a place where everyone knew their colleague was behaving in a predatory manner? But at the same time, a boycott does feel kind of pointless 

Apply.  If you get in, you can worry about it then (and you will be better able to make an informed decision, by carefully asking the right folks--potential advisors, current students, etc-- at the visit weekend).  If you DON'T get in, you won't have to worry about it at all.  Step one before step two.  That's a useful thing to keep in mind for grad school in general.

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