Summers Deserves No Heat

Harvard President Lawrence H. Summers has never been one to shy away from controversy. Only several months into his new job as President of the University, Summers got into a heated confrontation with Dr. Cornel West, a leading professor of black studies. Summers questioned West for making a rap CD, taking time off from class to advise Al Sharpton on his possible bid for the presidency in the 2004 Presidential Election, and in being guilty of grade inflation by giving unworthy students easy A’s. The controversy built up to a fevered pitch until West finally “defected” to Princeton University, prompting outrage from students and faculty alike against Summers’ actions. It now seems that Summers has once again become the center of yet another controversy, this one focused on comments made at a conference of the National Bureau of Economic Research last month. Summers’ comments concerned the large shortage of women in the sciences and in engineering, discussing possible inherent differences between men and women when it comes to aptitude in those fields, along with family and employer demands. As rumors concerning Summers’ remarks began to spread among students and faculty at Harvard, there was an immediate reaction as people rushed to attack his comments. At a meeting of faculty on February 15, Summers was put on the defensive with comments by some of the most influential professors in the university, including two department heads.