Harvard University wants to improve the diversity of its student body, and its newest president, Lawrence Bacow, is even willing to take an extreme step to recruit underrepresented minorities for the Ivy League school: he’s going to Trump country.
According to the Boston Globe, who reported on Bacow’s vision for one of the nation’s most prestigious schools over the weekend, Bacow “is out to shed Harvard’s image as a Northeast enclave for the country’s elite.” To do that, he’s ramping up Harvard’s outreach to the midwest, Rust Belt, and the flyover states.
“In a bid to win over middle America, Bacow is venturing into Trump country and plans to visit Pontiac, Mich., a once-thriving automobile city that has fallen on hard times,” the paper claims. “Bacow, who grew up in Pontiac, plans to announce that Harvard will collaborate with schools and other institutions in that community.”
Pontiac is about an hour outside of Detroit, Michigan. It’s a traditionally “blue” area — the surrounding counties are full of die-hard UAW members, and second- and third-generation blue collar workers, many of whom are now out of work following the collapse of Michigan’s automotive industry. But in 2016, President Donald Trump solidified his victory in Michigan by courting these so-called “Reagan Democrats,” who responded well to the then-candidate’s message of economic populism.
“The world has changed,” Bacow told the Globe. “We are well-represented already along the coasts. I’m not sure people in the part of the country where I grew up appreciate as much what institutions like this contribute to their welfare as well.”
It’s certainly an effort to applaud, though free speech advocates will be watching Harvard’s outreach program (and the subsequent culture shock) with keen interest. The Ivy League school isn’t a bastion of inclusion, at least when it comes to having center-right ideas.