The Harvard Crimson builds a straw man

I don't know if it was intentional or not, but in today's Crimson, its editors build a "straw man" argument that misrepresents the reality of the recent problems with Harvard's Science Complex construction.

The Crimson suggests that someone in Allston wants to prevent Harvard's construction experts from doing what is needed for a safe and efficient job. This could not be further from the truth. Let the experts do what they need to do to build the buildings and, at the same time, act as if the construction was being done in their backyard. These two goals need not be mutually exclusive. The source of the problem was not "a few extra hours" of work. The problem (like the night football issue from last year) is Harvard saying one thing to assure the community, doing the opposite, and giving the impression that they knew all along that what they said would not be what they would do.

Must Harvard's construction be the "logistical nightmare" that the Crimson suggests? Harvard has repeatedly told us otherwise, and Harvard should be able to afford to hire people with enough intelligence and experience to run this project quite smoothly.


  1. Anonymous12:09 PM

    Harry, with all due respect, I don't see a straw man in the Crimson article. The paper chides Harvard for not doing a better job communicating with Allston and asks for patience and understanding on both sides.

    I couldn't agree more. We don't want Harvard recklessly to abandon its agreements with the community. But we in the community also have to be careful not to see some dark plot behind the occasional Harvard screw-up. Over the next 50 years there will be a lot of such screw-ups, and screaming bloody murder about innocuous mistakes won't help relations.

  2. Sorry if I came across as "screaming bloody murder". That was absolutely not my intent.

    Here are the excerpts from the editorial that change the subject from the relevant topics (how Harvard's construction impacts the community and how Harvard communicates these impacts) to topics where there is no disagreement:

    "Harvard should not cut corners in building this new addition to the campus"

    "In order to make this process as efficient as possible, it is necessary to allow those in charge of construction to exercise their expertise on when construction should be done."

    "the need to work together does not exclude the need to allow those with the appropriate knowledge and skills to control the details of construction."

    Nobody in Allston ever said Harvard should cut corners. Nobody in Allston ever said that the construction experts should not be able to use their expertise. So what is point of raising these issues in the editorial and suggesting that there is some disagreement where really there is none?

  3. Anonymous9:30 PM