'Harvard is in Decline': Cornel West Resigns From Divinity School
West alleges he was denied tenure because he supports the Palestinian cause.
Well-known American philosopher and intellectual Dr Cornel West, took to Twitter on 13 July to share his "candid letter of resignation" to the Harvard University dated 30 June. West, an intellectual and political activist was a Professor at the Harvard School of Divinity which he now takes leave of.
In a long letter addressing his concerns, he mentioned the university is in "decline and decay".
Dr West, who is an alumni of Harvard, began his teaching career at Harvard. He resigned in 2002 but came back to the school after 14 years. From 2016 to date, he has threatened to resign twice before finally resigning this year. Both times, the university's decision to deny him tenure was speculated to be the cause of such a step.
Harvard Averse to the Palestinian Cause?
West claims that his views on Israel is the reason why he was denied a tenure. In his letter he writes that the "rejection based on Harvard administration's hostility to the Palestinian cause was disgusting". He further added that the university's cold response to his mother's demise was also because of his views which apparently did not coincide with the administration's.
The university has, on multiple occasions, denied any claims of it being intolerant to views, especially a pro-Palestinian view and any discrimination based on the former. Though Harvard has not made a public comment on this letter, previous interviews by spokespersons mention that it does not make any distinction and has employees who differ in their stance on the Israel-Palestine conflict.
Support for Dr West
A change.org petition is doing the rounds with an aim to reinstate Dr West. The petition reads, "By signing this petition, we are asking Harvard to provide basic respect to a distinguished academic."
Another petition signed by 90 organisations at Harvard condemns the university's denial of tenure to Dr West. It states, "Harvard has a history of treating its radical and justice-oriented scholars as dispensable. Primarily, Black studies, Indigenous studies, and ethnic studies scholars have been recruited, then discarded as untenured faculty in one-year postdoctoral fellowships, contingent professorships, or three-year lecturer positions." It accuses the university of quelling dissent and demands that Harvard "recruit and retain more tenured and tenure-track Black scholars and appropriate scholars of Black, Ethnic, and Indigenous studies."
Dr Cornel West is an outspoken voice in left wing politics. He has been associated with the Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York, Yale University, Princeton. He is a champion for racial justice. His website bio describes him as "a provocative democratic individual". He is credited with 20 books and has a passion to "keep alive the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr – a legacy to tell the truth."
(The Quint has reached out to Prof Dr West and Harvard University. We will update the article if and when we receive a comment.)
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