… because of that school’s perceived inadequate response to the Hamas atrocities, you know how this blog — which for years has condemned anyone giving anything to an institution currently hoarding close to fifty four billion dollars — feels. Same goes for other obscenely overendowed Ivies. If this event helps narcissistic hedgies discover legitimate uses for their charity, tant mieux.
A question we’ve asked for lo these many years on this blog.
… Charles William Eliot, who was president of Harvard from … 1869 to 1909? Forty years???
In a 1904 letter to a friend, Eliot wrote:
I am inclined to think that you would be more tolerant than I of the presence of stupid sons of the rich...
Not a peep all this time from the far more tolerant subsequent presidents…
70% of Harvard’s donor-related and legacy applicants are white, and being a legacy student makes an applicant roughly six times more likely to be admitted.
[E]lite places become these little islands where rich people pass down their advantages to their kids. They marry each other. They invest massively in their kids. Their kids then go to these exclusive schools. They move to the same few metro areas. And people who don’t grow up in these kinds of resource-rich families are really left behind. We’ve created a caste society based on who gets into what exclusive colleges.
After the death of affirmative action as (per SCOTUS) unfair preference, the complex business of legacy admits seems also to be circling the drain.
The word “legacy” covers not merely people admitted to selective schools because close relatives attended; it also can involve super-rich people donating (or likely to donate) multiple millions to buy a seat at these schools for their children. And it can have to do with talented athletes (most of them from expensive private secondary schools) admitted for their athletic rather than academic skill. It usually exhibits a mix of some of these elements.
Let’s look at a notorious case that in fact contains every one of these elements.
George Huguely, currently rotting in jail for killing his ex-girlfriend, was a legacy admit to the University of Virginia. “George III, George V’s grandfather, went to Sidwell Friends and the University of Virginia.” A friend of Huguely’s at the expensive, prestigious prep school he attended comments: “He was not a great student, but he didn’t care.” He was a great lacrosse player.
A hopeless alcoholic from a young age (Huguely’s father showed him how), Huguely boasted several booze-related arrests, including a quite serious one in Lexington, Virginia while he was a UVa student:
Officer Rebecca Moss discovered Huguely wobbling drunk into traffic near a fraternity at Washington and Lee University. She told him to find a ride home or face arrest. He began screaming obscenities and making threats. [Apparently he said “I’ll kill all you bitches.“]
“Stop resisting,” Moss said. “You’re only making matters worse.”
Moss and another female officer tried to subdue Huguely. He became “combative,” the police chief reported. Moss stunned him with a Taser, put him in a squad car, and took him to the police station.
At his court hearing a month later, Huguely said he didn’t remember much about the night and apologized. He pleaded guilty to public swearing, intoxication, and resisting arrest. He was fined $100 and given a 60-day suspended sentence.
Huguely bragged about the incident to [UVa] friends…
Some of these friends were, like Huguely, part of a drunk, entitled, obnoxious sometimes to the point of violence, rich lacrosse player culture where you don’t rat out buddies even if you know they’re really really dangerous and out of control. One assumes most of these friends laughed drunkenly along with Huguely as he detailed the latest incident in which he got away with… not murder. Not yet. But things were escalating, and some of his friends certainly knew he was threatening his ex-girlfriend and assaulting people he thought she was dating and just being a really scary violent crazy piece of shit.
It’s certainly worth asking what sort of subculture sees all of this and does nothing. It’s certainly worth asking how a non-academic, violent, total alcoholic with a criminal record was rewarded with an extremely competitive seat at one of the nation’s greatest universities. What did his prep school teachers and coaches, many of whom must have known or guessed how incredibly dangerous he was, write in their letters of recommendation about him? (Think also about poor drunk well-connected short-lived Paul Murdaugh, still a student in good standing at the University of South Carolina despite having recently killed a young woman and injured others while drunkenly at the helm of a family boat. Like Huguely, he already had a bunch of booze-related run-ins with police.
Two months after he was sprung from jail, a judge removed the only condition of his release — allowing him to travel outside the 14th Judicial Circuit, according to the news outlet.
Although he faced BUI charges, the state did not restrict him from drinking alcohol or driving a boat, the report said.
Another entitled rich kid given one free pass after another until… Well, one can’t help feeling for Paul Murdaugh. His own father murdered him.)
“I was drinking a lot all the time, all the way from my freshman year to my senior year,” Huguely said at his trial. “I was drinking all the time. It was out of control.”
Look. My point isn’t that legacy admits are murderers and degenerates. Most of them are pleasant well-meaning non-Ivy League material. But there’s a really anti-social pathology underlying the culture of lifelong consequence-free unearned social rewards of which some (not all) legacy admits are Exhibit A. The Varsity Blues criminal syndicate, and whatever current bogus athletics conspiracy has replaced it, is merely the crude extension of the basic legacy M.O. The socially acceptable con game of legacy admits makes the world safe for the scandal of Varsity Blues.
And can you think of anything more morally corrosive than knowing that your corrupt parents and a corrupt institution engineered your sorry ass into a seat at Harvard? Knowing that you’re little more than a cold hard cash epiphenomenon to the institution – does that bother you at all? Does it feel like a prefiguration of your entire entitled life? Here’s a bunch of nice people getting me into Harvard; here’s a bunch of nice people showing me how to evade taxes. And so it goes.
The tragedy of wealth-based admissions is that wealthy students are taking up seats from the poor, unconnected students who need them most. This is not a victimless crime.
… [C]ollege leaders … sell access while squatting on multibillion-dollar endowments and spending vast sums of money on palatial campus buildings, leadership compensation, and administrative bloat.
And you’re paying for it:
… If a donor earns seven figures a year and lives in California, taxpayers can wind up subsidizing more than 52 cents of every dollar used to buy his child’s way into college. Even in states with less exorbitant tax rates, taxpayers routinely pick up more than 40% of the tab. That’s because these kinds of donations are wholly tax deductible: As long as there’s no explicit quid pro quo agreement, the IRS allows parents to write off their influence-peddling donations in full.
… Offering a special admissions track to the wealthy on the taxpayer’s dime impedes equal opportunity, rewards influence peddling, and robs the public. It’s time for a change. Colleges and universities should be places of opportunity, not institutions where background or wealth determine success. Wealthy applicants should have to earn their place in a university by the same rules as everyone else.
… We should press college officials to mean what they say about opportunity and equity, and to spend less time strong-arming wealthy donors. But at a bare minimum, we should get taxpayers out of the business of subsidizing campus shakedown artists.
And when I say pathology: Harvard is currently squatting on 53 billion dollars. It has yet more from other sources. And because the government, risibly, continues to consider it a non-profit institution, it enjoys amazing tax breaks. What sort of fucked up institution is still trading its integrity for more money under these circumstances?
Let’s start with delight: One of UD‘s heroes, Steven Pinker, has started a defense of free speech group among faculty there. Everyone’s got an eye on Stanford and Oberlin and multiple other stagers of politically coercive campus melodrama, and all self-respecting centers of free inquiry need to take an explicit stand against these enemies of freedom. UD’s beloved University of Chicago is a pioneer here; Harvard and other schools follow UC in strong unmitigated statements, rules, and organizations deployed to resist right and left ideologues – some of whom, grotesquely, were hired by these same universities – who are always trying to shut/shout down free thought and free expression. Harvard’s Council on Academic Freedom (which includes econ prof Jason Furman, whose Cambridge house UD knows well, because for years it was owned by her buddy Peter Galbraith) rightly anticipates, and readies itself to fight, mindless and destructive fanaticism.
On the disgust front, there’s yet another greedy egomaniac who can’t think of anything to do with three hundred million dollars other than give it to an institution worth significantly more than fifty billion dollars in order to get his name on a building and get some tax benefits. Vomit.
Not to mention.
Ah, but unlike those other institutions, Harvard struggles with a 54 billion dollar endowment, and cannot be expected to overcome the legal and sand blasting hurdles that other institutions have overcome.
Harvard’s goal of a one hundred billion dollar endowment is in serious jeopardy this morning, as outside pressure on the Kennedy School threatens to alienate donors. The school denied a fellowship to a distinguished human rights advocate for fear that his critical remarks about Israel would offend Jewish benefactors, which would in turn significantly set back the Hundred Bill. for Harvard! campaign. But free speech advocates are fighting back in defense of the controversial candidate for the fellowship.
Lord knows why anyone is critical of Israel.
Harvard’s response to the controversy has been quick. “We’re already well on our way to 55 billion,” commented Gerald Symington, head of the HBH campaign, “and doubling that is far from an impossible dream. Imagine what just one school with a modest enrollment could do with that sort of money! We can’t afford to let Israel critics derail us from our dream.”
Oh, okayyyyy…. We’ll give him the fellowship after all. But he better watch his mouth!
Pablo Eisenberg, a hero of this blog (UD has forever shrieked at super-icky moneybags who give their hundreds of millions to Harvard), has died.
(By the way — Harvard’s current endowment woes – it has only just reached 53.2 billion dollars – have energized its alumni network to organize a massive, unprecedented, Save Our School campaign, with outreach via Go Fund Me pages in addition to traditional methods. “Our rainy day fund is down to 10.5 billion,” warns Sam Bankman-Fried, an MIT grad who nonetheless accepted a position as head of Harvard fund-raising because “Harvard is the lifeblood of Cambridge; when it goes, the city itself is imperiled.”)
And as to how to convince people who give their money to Ivy League schools, rather than to the sort of places Eisenberg lists in my headline, to redirect their money… Well, you need to understand the cohort you’re talking about, first of all.
Let’s consider, for example, billionaire investor Marc Wolpow, who gives money to fat cat Wharton. What do we know about Marc?
Here’s our most recent information.
The wealthy head of [a] multi-billion dollar private equity firm is under investigation by Nantucket Police and the state Environmental Police for purposefully untying a 32-foot boat from a slip at Old North Wharf, allowing it to drift out of the Easy Street Basin and into the ferry lane.
The suspect is Marc Wolpow, the co-CEO and co-founder of the The Audax Group, who allegedly found an unknown boat in the slip he uses on Old North Wharf on the morning of Sunday, Oct. 16…
After Wolpow untied it, the boat drifted dangerously past Steamboat Wharf, got pushed northward in the wash of the car ferry the M/V Woods Hole, then collided with the $5 million, 70-foot Viking sportfishing boat “El Jefe” causing damage to that vessel. It eventually ran aground near 22 Easton Street.
Reached by phone this week, Wolpow declined to comment.
Here’s what’s shocking about this story:
1 Just anyone reached Wolpow by phone.
2 Wolpow declined to comment.
Why allow just anyone to get past your protection squad and reach you by phone? That’s nuts.
Even more bizarre is Wolpow’s refusal to say the obvious about his behavior.
Heard of property rights, asshole? [“Asshole” here refers to the person who got through to Wolpow’s phone.] It’s my fucking slip, I own it, and I don’t have to look at some cheap shitty boat some person decided to put in it. Do you think I want Nantucket boat owners to think I have a cheap shitty boat? It’s my right to do whatever I like to cheap shitty boats and I think the fucker who put it in my slip will think twice before he does it again. Oh, and fuck you for calling me.
Getting a person of this sort (Marc Kasowitz, Howard Marks, Vinod Khosla, Noam Gottesman, the Heliport Guys, stop me when you’ve had enough) to give money to what he inevitably is going to consider cheap shitty recipients will be very difficult indeed.
You remember Shleifer.
Some U.S. neoliberal advisers to Russia in [the Yeltsin] era even served as role models for [oligarchic] corruption. A personal adviser to [Anatoly] Chubais was Andrei Shleifer, a Russian-born émigré and tenured Harvard professor, who ran the Moscow office of the Harvard Institute for International Development, which had the main Russia contract from USAID. Shleifer was prosecuted in 1997, after it was revealed his wife operated a hedge fund that speculated in privileged information based on Shleifer’s official work. Harvard paid fines totaling $26.5 million to settle the case, and Shleifer paid $2 million.
Shleifer must be buddies with a lot of the guys now being blacklisted all over the world. Is there a story there?
Plus “I didn’t declare it, and that’s illegal.”
UD has already, uh, sung the praises of Harvard 大人物 Charles Lieber here. He has now been found guilty (max. sentence five years) of
two counts of making false statements to the U.S. government about whether he participated in Thousand Talents Plan, a program designed by the Chinese government to attract foreign-educated scientists in China. They also found him guilty of failing to declare income earned in China and failing to report a Chinese bank account.
See, you’re not supposed to take millions and millions of OUR dollars for your scientific research and secretly subsidize it with millions of dollars from our rich, interested-in-our-secrets, non-friends.
But for UD the real fun here is the whole vulgar bag-man thing, the image of Hahvahd lugging its piles of dirty cash onto airplanes. Will the TSA discover (sweat sweat) the C-Notes in my Louis Vuitton steamer trunk?
It’s very University of Miami… And yet a closer look at Harvard yields Jeffrey Epstein’s stable of over-age girls, Andrei Shleifer’s Moscow Adventures, Larry Summers’ hedge fund presidency, etc. Let’s not give ourselves airs.
Or, in University Diaries terms, think of it as Harvard University having lost 1.5 percent of its current endowment.
Has anyone been called “disgusting” by more people than Harvard’s highest-profile professor? Does Harvard care that its best-known professor is fighting off claims that he was deeply engaged with a sex slaver, defends people who mutilate children, and praises his fellow tv news panelist who calls heroic American patriots spies? At what point in this man’s career will Harvard decide to break off the association?
But he’ll be pissed to see that he’s the very last two words – an afterthought, really.
CAMBRIDGE, MA—Emphasizing that the late billionaire [Jeffrey Epstein] was only having sex with consenting adults at the time, Harvard officials said Friday that the nearly $9 million … Epstein gave to the university was received during a brief recovery period when he did not engage in pedophilia. “I want to be clear: These donations were made only at times when Mr. Epstein was not actively involved in molesting, raping, or trafficking underage girls,” said Harvard President Lawrence Bacow, adding that the university had monitored the convicted felon’s sex life closely to ensure all checks were written and deposited during intervals in which Epstein completely abstained from intercourse with children. “While Jeffrey struggled, and eventually relapsed into pedophilia, I want to assure our community that Harvard went to great lengths not to accept his money while he abused minors. In addition, I can confirm that when Epstein was a visiting fellow in our Psychology Department back in 2005, he only had sex with women who had turned 18.” Bacow later clarified that the university’s anti-pedophile policy only applied to Epstein and would not have any effect on Harvard emeritus law professor Alan Dershowitz.
Certain universities – Louisville, USC, Yeshiva, the University of Miami – have the smell of more or less criminal enterprises. They’re always generating high-level, multifaceted, scandal; some of their trustees are crooked or even criminal financiers. Yeshiva had Bernard Madoff as treasurer; Ezra Merkin also sat on their board. Also, I believe, Ira Rennert. The school continues to have as a trustee Zygmunt Wilf. These are not pretty people.
Now, Harvard and MIT were indeed buddies with Jeffrey Epstein; Harvard even celebrates as an emeritus professor Alan Dershowitz, at least an Epstein intimate, and at most (according to one of Epstein’s slaves) a secret sharer in the sex. Its erstwhile president, who helped run a hedge fund while president, hung out with Epstein too. (He also hung out with Andrei Shleifer…) But these schools are not the rackety dives those other schools are. They’re not just in it for the money. Nor are they just in it for the sports: The heavy campus hand of plutocrat college sports fans (the recently departed T. Boone Pickens at Oklahoma State; Phil Knight at Oregon) generates scandals, too – but these are the tired, expected scandals of the jock school.
No, MIT and Harvard are great schools, serious schools, productive schools – they are among the world’s greatest intellectual institutions. They fuck with plutocrats because of their professors’ smokin’ ambition to understand, to invent, to cure. They want money, money, and more money to fund their projects. To be sure, some of this generative creative activity makes some of their professors personally wealthy — the ex-head of MIT’s Media Lab took money from Epstein for his own investments, which adds to the embarrassment of it all… More commonly, professors monetize their medical and technical breakthroughs, producing all kinds of conflict of interest trouble at cutting edge places like Stanford…
We little people, looking in at all of this from the outside, are assured that COIs can be “managed” – the word is always managed – and we shouldn’t worry our pretty little heads. Yessir!
Now look. Most people are pretty greedy; many putrid plutocrats realize that a university affiliation can clean them up real good. It’s a marriage made in heaven. But here’s what UD finds remarkable: MIT’s endowment is close to 17 billion; Harvard’s is close to forty billion. In ten years or so, Harvard’s wealth will be, say, a hundred billion. Harvard is a superplutocrat.
These schools are currently in trouble for promiscuous plutocrat fraternization; but given how INSANELY – not to say unconscionably – rich they are, why is this sort of thing happening at all? Just make an appointment with the “super-secret and dictatorial Harvard Corporation” and explain to them that you’d rather dip into the school’s billions and billions and billions than have to take research money from a guy in jail for sexually enslaving fifteen year olds. The worst they can say is no!
And while we’re at it – Why do superbillionaires like Harvard feel compelled to appoint rich turds like Epstein visiting fellows? We know that legacy parents can pay their kids’ way into Harvard; we know that rich parents can bribe coaches to get their kids into schools like Harvard and Yale. I’m not sure we knew that profit-oriented Harvard faculty can gift generous rich guys official appointments. Not a good look. Not a good look at all. But when Larry Summers spends his presidency running a hedge fund, losing $1.8 billion of Harvard’s endowment on market gambles, and defending a faculty crony who misused, for personal gain, government funds to Harvard, whadaya expect? That crony cost Harvard tens of millions in federal penalties, and it made not one bit of difference in terms of his high-profile position in Harvard’s economics department. That’s the way plutocracies work, kiddies. Plutocracies are even smart enough to know when their workings have become too public, which is why right after Larry Summers, Harvard appointed preachy anti-materialist Drew Faust (‘And while you’re at it, find me a woman, for crap sake!”) to maintain the non-profit theatrics.
Skeptical of the clean-up crew function of women when plutocrat sausage parties get out of hand? Read and learn. As FIFA went, so went Harvard – when things get truly desperate and you can’t hide what you’ve been doing any longer, Find A Woman, Pronto. You can always go right back to men when it all blows over.
As ever, sing it.
[Before and after his conviction in 2008, Epstein was a regular on the masturbatory tech gadfly circuit — an attendee and sponsor of “billionaire dinners” and related sausage-factory soirees at which ultrawealthy men (among them the founders of Amazon and Google), elite scientists and various other male luminaries discussed the future they were collectively trying to build (or, depending on your perspective, squander.)]
The party’s over
It’s time to find us a dame
Until we start up again
I’m going to miss our game
It’s time to wind up
There’s no more Epstein
To keep us paid…
… but you’re not focusing on what really excites me. Not so much How soon can we legally fuck them? But How soon can we cut off their clits?
Too bad, by the way, the burqa is legal here. I’d love for my legal career to go out in a blaze of glory (I’m eighty!) by defending parents who have not only genitally eviscerated their eight year old daughters but forced them to wear face and body shrouds!
What else can we do to little girls? Down, wanton, down!
By the way — Elie Honig thinks just because he’s handsome and decades younger and all over tv he can write HAVE YOU LOST YOUR DAMN MIND? to me and I’ll just sit there and take it. That’s what he thinks.
Oh, and I also have a boner to pick with Joe Patrice at Above the Law:
The problem [with Dershowitz] isn’t a warped view of how the law should treat girls, but a warped view of the law and women writ large.
Listen. I’ll put my perfect, perfect sex life up against his any day.