In December of 2012, many Harvard students woke to an unpleasant surprise that had been slid under their doors. A flyer, circulated by anonymous parties, was seemingly a parodic invitation to a final club. “Inclusion. Diversity. Love.” it read, with footnotes clarifying “Jews need not apply. Seriously, no fucking Jews. Coloreds okay. Rophynol.” (Final clubs are Harvard’s version of fraternities: they are very wealthy, very old, and bear a long tradition of elitism and sexism.)
In response, the (now former) Dean of the College, Evelynn M. Hammonds issued a statement. “I find these flyers offensive,” it said. “Even if intended as satirical in nature, they are hurtful and offensive … and do not demonstrate the level of thoughtfulness and respect we expect at Harvard when engaging difficult issues within our community.” That week, two Harvard House Masters, Nicholas A. and Erika Christakis, wrote a histrionic Time op-ed in which they described the school as a “a free-speech surveillance state.” Their sole evidence was the administration’s response to the anonymous gesture: Hammonds’s declaration that she, for one, did not care for it.