The internet outrage mill got something wrong? Can it be?
It’s true. Despite numerous reports that Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government planned to institute an orientation seminar on white “power and privilege” for its incoming students, a school spokesperson says the school has absolutely no intention of requiring or even offering such a program.
The school will instead “revamp” its already existing diversity training for incoming students, according to the Kennedy School’s Director of Media Relations Doug Gavel.
“Contrary to one article that has been picked up by others, the school is not planning to offer classes, coursework, or sessions devoted specifically to ‘power and privilege,’” he wrote in a statement to Boston.com.
“The school currently offers a number of opportunities for students to discuss and learn about issues of diversity. Learning to have constructive conversations in the context of differences in race, gender, cultural background, political viewpoints and many other perspectives is important in any graduate school particularly one dedicated to preparing its students to be effective leaders and policymakers.”
Gavel said none of those who ran with the false report reached out to Harvard officials for comment or clarification on the story.
The false reports seemed to originate from a post on the Tumblr page “Harvard Kennedy School Speak Out,” in which students often share their stories, often anonymously, about their experiences with identity and diversity at the school.
The group has campaigned for such orientation classes at the university in the past, and a recent update told followers that the school “officially expressed its desire to collaborate with us on designing a privilege training component for Orientation week.”
“We have certainly engaged in discussions with this student group on this issue and have told the students categorically that the school has no intention of offering a session on ‘power and privilege,’” Gavel said.
Gavel said he did not know the source of the group’s misinformation, and couldn’t comment if students faced any disciplinary actions over the post.Caesar can be reached at Christopher.Caesar@globe.com or via Twitter @ChrisCaesar.