Carter Estes: Effort to ban Trump officials from Harvard is a dangerous attack on free speech and education

My fi

My first year at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government hasn’t been what I expected — and I’m not just talking about all the restrictions to guard against the spread of COVID-19. I couldn’t have predicted that I’d be delivering a speech to my peers urging them to uphold free speech at one of America’s most prestigious centers of learning.

Unfortunately, I recently found myself on Zoom urging members of the Harvard Kennedy School Student Government to reject a student-led effort to restrict Trump administration officials from speaking at Harvard. 

While I am relieved that the student government ultimately rejected the restrictions, I remain disturbed that my peers would propose this action and that it actually could have passed. An education underpinned by conditions of censorship is not a real education. And those who seek an education should never demand protection from ideas. 


 I came to Harvard to learn. But institutions of higher education that allow for restrictions on information and dialogue —whether imposed by students or administrators — forfeit the title of “educational institution” in exchange for the title “indoctrination center.” The latter is not what I signed up for. I want Harvard to deliver the education it claims to offer. 

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I am shocked and disappointed that some of my fellow graduate students — who surely came to one of the world’s top government affairs graduate programs to grow intellectually and professionally—would make these demands. The authors of the letter calling for banning Trump officials from campus said the reason for the ban was to, ironically, stop the “subversion of democratic principles” by the Trump administration. But free speech is a democratic principle. 

 The authors of this letter seek to cancel debate and silence political opposition. They are terrified of having their world views challenged. But that’s exactly why earnest minds have traditionally come to Harvard.

The Kennedy School has hosted many controversial figures, including members of the Clinton and Nixon administrations, former Obama Attorney General Eric Holder, and the late secretary-general of the Palestine Liberation Organization, Saeb Erekat.

We students are adults and we are fully capable of hearing uncomfortable and offensive information and arguments. It will only make us better.

 I am a conservative. Harvard is an overwhelmingly liberal institution. I have only benefitted by having my ideas and values challenged while studying here. But more than that, Harvard owes it to students like me to be honest about what it claims to offer — a rigorous intellectual environment and access to top leaders.

 Whether you agree with Trump policies or not, those who served in Trump administration have firsthand knowledge and experience in the highest levels of domestic and foreign policy. These players have impacted the world and we students can decide if their marks were good or bad, and conclude the missteps for ourselves.

 But the onus is on universities to uphold their missions. They need to teach their students

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Scientists call for decade of concerted effort to enhance understanding of the deep seas

Scientists call for decade of concerted effort to enhance understanding of the deep seas
A close-up image of a bamboo coral called Acanella arbuscula taken from ~1000m deep in the North East Atlantic Credit: NERC funded Deep Links Project (University of Plymouth, Oxford University, JNCC, BGS)

The deep seas—vast expanses of water and seabed hidden more than 200 meters below the ocean surface to depths up to 11,000 meters—are recognized globally as an important frontier of science and discovery.

But despite the fact they account for around 60% of Earth’s surface area, large areas remain completely unexplored, yet the habitats they support impact on the health of the entire planet.

Now an international team of scientists, spanning 45 institutions in 17 countries, has called for a dedicated decade-long program of research to greatly advance discovery in these remote regions.

The program—which scientists have named Challenger 150—will coincide with the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development, which runs from 2021-2030.

Challenger 150 will generate new geological, physical, biogeochemical, and biological data through a global cooperative of science and innovation, including the application of new technology. These data will be used to understand how changes in the deep sea impact the wider ocean and life on the planet.

Among its key areas of focus are to build greater capacity and diversity in the scientific community, acknowledging the fact that existing deep-sea research is conducted primarily by developed nations with access to resources and infrastructure.

The program will use this new knowledge of the deep to support regional, national, and international decision-making on deep-sea issues such as mining, hydrocarbon extraction, fishing, climate mitigation, laying of fiber optic cables and conservation.

The international team presented the rationale behind the call for action in a comment article in Nature Ecology and Evolution, simultaneously publishing a detailed blueprint of how the actions can be best achieved in Frontiers in Marine Science.

Led by members of the Deep-Ocean Stewardship Initiative (DOSI) and the Scientific Committee on Oceanic Research (SCOR), the authorship reflects both the gender and geographical diversity such a program demands, with authors from the six inhabited continents of the world.

They note that the UN Decade provides an unrivaled opportunity to unite the international science community to deliver a giant leap in our knowledge of the deep seas.

Scientists call for decade of concerted effort to enhance understanding of the deep seas
An outcrop of rock makes a perfect home for many different cold water coral species Credit: NERC funded Deep Links Project (University of Plymouth, Oxford University, JNCC, BGS)

Kerry Howell, Professor of Deep-Sea Ecology at the University of Plymouth (UK) and lead author of the research publications, said: “The deep seas and seabed are increasingly being used by society, and they are seen as a potential future asset for the resources they possess. But managing these resources sustainably requires that we first understand deep-sea ecosystems and their role in our planet, its people and its atmosphere. Our vision is for a 10 year program of science and discovery that is global in scale and targeted towards proving the science to inform decisions around deep-ocean use. We

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Gemini North observations enable breakthrough in centuries-old effort to unravel astronomical mystery

Blast from the past
The enigmatic CK Vulpeculae nebula. The team of astronomers measured the speeds and changes in positions of the two small reddish arcs about 1/4 of the way up from the bottom and 1/4 of the way down from the top to help determine that the nebula is expanding five times faster than previously thought. Credit: International Gemini Observatory/NOIRLab/NSF/AURAImage processing: Travis Rector (University of Alaska Anchorage), Mahdi Zamani & Davide de Martin

An international team of astronomers using Gemini North’s GNIRS instrument have discovered that CK Vulpeculae, first seen as a bright new star in 1670, is approximately five times farther away than previously thought. This makes the 1670 explosion of CK Vulpeculae much more energetic than previously estimated and puts it into a mysterious class of objects that are too bright to be members of the well-understood type of explosions known as novae, but too faint to be supernovae.

350 years ago, the French monk Anthelme Voituret saw a bright new star flare into life in the constellation of Vulpecula. Over the following months, the star became almost as bright as Polaris (the North Star) and was monitored by some of the leading astronomers of the day before it faded from view after a year. The new star eventually gained the name CK Vulpeculae and was long considered to be the first documented example of a nova—a fleeting astronomical event arising from an explosion in a close binary star system in which one member is a white dwarf, the remnant of a Sun-like star. However, a string of recent results have thrown the longstanding classification of CK Vulpeculae as a nova into doubt.

In 2015, a team of astronomers suggested that CK Vulpeculae’s appearance in 1670 was the result of two normal stars undergoing a cataclysmic collision. Just over three years later, the same astronomers further proposed that one of the stars was in fact a bloated red giant star, following their discovery of a radioactive isotope of aluminum in the immediate surroundings of the site of the 1670 explosion. Complicating the picture even further, a separate group of astronomers proposed a different interpretation. In their paper, also published in 2018, they suggested that the sudden brightening in 1670 was the result of the merger between a brown dwarf—a failed star too small to shine via thermonuclear fusion that powers the Sun—and a white dwarf.

Now, adding to the ongoing mystery surrounding CK Vulpeculae, new observations from the international Gemini Observatory, a Program of NSF’s NOIRLab, reveal that this enigmatic astronomical object is much farther away and has ejected gas at much higher speeds than previously reported.

Blast from the past
This wide-field view shows the sky around the location of the historical exploding star CK Vulpeculae. The remains of the nova are only very faintly visible at the center of this picture. Credit: ESO/Digitized Sky Survey 2.Acknowledgment: Davide De Martin

This team, led by Dipankar Banerjee of Physical Research Laboratory Ahmedabad, India, Tom Geballe of Gemini Observatory, and Nye Evans of Keele University

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Berea school board backs effort to fix Ohio’s education funding formula

BEREA, Ohio — The Berea Board of Education at its Nov. 16 meeting passed a resolution endorsing the Fair School Funding Plan and urging state lawmakers to pass legislation aimed at fixing Ohio’s unconstitutional funding formula for education.

District Treasurer/CFO Jill Rowe presented the district’s five-year financial forecast to the board and indicated lawmakers are attempting to get the new funding law passed by Dec. 15.

“It’s very exciting news,” Rowe said. “In our current funding model, we’re compared (financially) to state averages and other school districts. This new model funds us locally and keeps the money here for our kids.”

The district currently receives $6,020 in state funding per student. If a child living in Berea, Brook Park, or Middleburg Heights attends a non-public school, however, Rowe said the per-student allocation is taken directly from the district’s bank account and given to the private/charter/community school.

The new state funding formula would base allocations not on state averages, but on local district demographics. It also would provide a separate funding mechanism for non-public schools.

Rowe said the Berea City Schools currently receives $7.4 million in state education funding. Under the proposed new formula, the district would receive $12.7 million. The state has indicated it will take six years to fully implement, Rowe emphasized.

“Most districts are going to be winners in the long run,” she said, provided the legislation passes in the current lame-duck session. “This is more equitable to the districts.”

“If this gets passed, we can be cautiously optimistic that future (state) budgets will benefit the district,” added board member Jeffrey Duke.

During her presentation, Rowe also indicated the district will begin deficit spending in 2022.

“We need to be concerned about watching our yearly expenses,” she said, noting discussions will begin between herself, Superintendent Tracy Wheeler, and Assistant Superintendent Michael Draves about “what we need to do when talking about future money for the district.”

Rowe did stress, however, the district continues to maintain a required cash balance equal to one month of operations, which is $7.5 million. The district is not projected to fall below that amount until 2024.

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Maryland college dedicates new memorial in effort to confront legacy of slavery | US news

When Tuajuanda Jordan first saw the newest addition to her college campus – a haunting memorial to enslaved people who lived, labored and died there – she stood and wept.

“So it’s a good thing that there weren’t many people around,” the president of St Mary’s College of Maryland says. “There was a photographer who has a photo of me and she’s behind me and my reflection is coming out of the steel and you can see the anguish on my face. It does its job.”

With the dedication of the Commemorative to Enslaved Peoples of Southern Maryland set for Saturday, one small public liberal arts college will be making a big statement about confronting its physical association with slavery. It will also be throwing down the gauntlet to other educational institutions to grapple with their own uncomfortable legacies.

Founded in 1840, St Mary’s has about 1,500 undergraduates, of whom an estimated 86% are white. The faculty is more than 90% white, though slowly diversifying. The college is located in a conservative and rural pocket of Maryland, a state that has voted Democratic in every presidential election since 1992.

“There are lots of people around here that have the Confederate flag and are very proud of that,” said Jordan, 60, who is African American. “St Mary’s county is a red dot in a blue state and our college is the blue dot within the red dot within the blue state. When things come up, there is tension sometimes between the folks in the area and our students.”

It was the summer of 2016 when the college began archaeological digging required before building a new sports stadium and uncovered artifacts associated with enslaved people’s quarters. Jordan immediately understood the significance. She asked focus groups of students, faculty, staff and community members to decide how best to honour the the enslaved people who lived in St Mary’s City between 1750 and 1815.

Last year the design firm RE:site was selected to build a memorial that would recast history from the perspective of those enslaved, instead of the land owners. The sculpture recreates an enslaved people’s cabin and incorporates “erasure poetry” culled from advertisements and other historical documents. At night, the lighting inside the memorial beams the poetry on to the surrounding landscape.

The Commemorative to Enslaved Peoples of Southern Maryland on the campus of St. Mary’s College of Maryland

The memorial incorporates ‘erasure poetry’ culled from historical documents. Photograph: St Mary’s College of Maryland

Installation began last month and there will be a virtual dedication entitled “From Absence to Presence” on Saturday at 11am with a keynote address by Jelani Cobb, a historian and staff writer for the New Yorker magazine, as well as remarks by Maryland’s governor, Larry Hogan, Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen and Congressman Steny Hoyer.

The discovery of the artifacts forced the college to recognise the history of its surroundings and consider what remains hidden underground. Jordan said: “As the president of this college, you know that there was slavery in southern Maryland, but somehow in my deepest heart I had hoped that

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Young’s career day guides Steinert to best effort in almost two years

By the time Steinert’s football team started to make mistakes, it had built up more than enough equity to survive any potential crash.

Playing what may have been their best all-around game since Thanksgiving of 2018, the Spartans rode a huge game by Cody Young to a 29-13 victory over visiting Allentown Saturday.

Steinert carried a 29-0 lead into the fourth quarter before two fumbles led to two Redbird touchdowns. But the Spartans (2-3) regained their grip on the ball and the game and ran out the final 7:24 for their second straight win.

“I think we’re starting to find our identity, so that’s a good thing,” coach Dan Caruso said. “We’re starting to jell a little bit. Hopefully we can continue this trend.”

Young had a career day, rushing for 217 yards and three touchdowns while also making some big plays defensively at linebacker. In becoming the second straight Spartan to gain over 200 against the Redbirds (Will Laster did it last year), Young credited his line of center Cameron Kemler, guards Jack Pattik and Ezekiel Breza, and tackles Duvel Joasil, Jack Lambert and Colin James.

“The o-line did a great job, I can’t thank them enough for it,” Young said. “They pushed everybody, made holes for me and I just went through them. We figured we just had to go. Put our heads down and run.”

Arise Ceide added 67 rushing yards while Liam Ramirez was an efficient 4-for-8 for 67 yards and a touchdown.

Steinert’s defense held the Redbirds to just 19 rushing yards and harassed Dan Merkel into a 10-for-26 passing day with two

interceptions. Young, Deklin Smith, Lambert and Anthony DiMeglio were among the many who made big plays.

“We know Merkel’s a special talent and every year he comes out and performs as we expect,” said Smith, who was all over the place at linebacker. “He’s an athlete, he’s a baller. But our defense really showed up today. We did our job as (defensive coordinator Bill) James stresses, every day, every week. When we do that we’re a dangerous team.

“We knew we had to shut down the run. If they have the run game going that’s when Merkel gets going. Once we shut down the run, we left it up to Merkel and their receivers to make plays. Our secondary came up big today and played good for us.”

Merkel threw for 216 yards, with Jake Raff catching five passes for 121 and a TD. But Allentown (1-4) could not take advantage of consistent good field condition, coming up empty on possessions that started at their 31, 46, 45, 45 and 38.

“The defense did what they were coached to do,” Caruso said. “Everybody did their job, we didn’t try to win games by ourselves. Especially playing against a quarterback of this kid’s caliber. If you give him anything, if you get out of your pass rush lane and try to do too much he’s gonna absolutely take advantage of that.”

Steinert took

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College students make a last-ditch effort to make Election Day an academic holiday

“As it stands, there’s nothing really stopping us from making this holiday a reality,” he said. “For a university president to say that this doesn’t work doesn’t hold as much water now as it used to.”

Organizers at Northeastern University, Boston College, Boston University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of Massachusetts Boston, the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, and Harvard’s various schools fixated on the initiative this month, following the lead of several colleges across the country, such as George Washington University and the University of Utah, that now recognize Election Day as a holiday or “non-instructional day” — largely thanks to student advocacy this year.

Members also point to states, including Illinois, New York, and West Virginia, that deemed the day a public holiday.

The Boston-based collective, which is unnamed and unofficial, was created in the first weeks of October and has about eight members.

In that short time, they have contacted on-campus organizations that are spearheading registration drives. They’ve pumped out legislative proposals at student senate meetings and on Zoom calls with the Boston Intercollegiate Government. They’ve garnered endorsements from boards, big and small, with power in their universities.

By banding together, group members have gained clout and confidence, said Boston College junior Dennis Wieboldt.

“We’re trying to leverage the connection we all have between our schools and show a united front,” said Wieboldt, chairman of the Boston Collegiate Government. “Start with schools, and build from there.”

Students at multiple institutions now involved in the Election Day initiative have tried to sway administrators to adopt the idea in years past — and failed.

More than 40 million people have already voted in this year’s election, including nearly 1.2 million in Massachusetts. But many faculty and staff members may still be planning to cast their ballots on Nov. 3, and nothing should stop them, said advocate and Northeastern junior Jackson Hurley.

“It’s one day,” he said. “We know it may be a minor inconvenience to [declare the holiday] on short notice, but the overwhelming benefit it will provide for the community as a whole — especially faculty and staff — overweighs the cost.”

Universities like MIT and Harvard set aside a few hours of paid time off for employees during Election Day. Others, like Northeastern and BU, encourage professors to be flexible to students’ scheduling needs and make necessary accommodations.

Still, most of Boston’s prominent institutions stand by the notion that an entire day off is unessential, especially since the majority of college-connected voters do not cast ballots in person.

“Given the large number of students who are voting by mail and voting absentee in other states, we do not think a single day off is warranted,” a Northeastern spokeswoman wrote in an e-mail to the Globe.

But student organizers say an academic holiday would encourage their peers to engage in different parts of the voting process, such as volunteering at the polls and replacing older workers more directly threatened by the COVID-19 pandemic, helping with same-day

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Dolphins’ Myles Gaskin: Career-best effort Sunday

Gaskin carried the ball 18 times for 91 yards and caught all four of his targets for 35 yards in Sunday’s 24-0 win over the Jets.

Both the 91 rushing yards and 126 scrimmage yards were career highs for the second-year back, as Miami spent much of the second half burning clock after taking a 21-0 lead into halftime. Gaskin has a firm hold on the No. 1 job in the Dolphins’ backfield, and his role is unlikely to change following the team’s Week 7 bye.

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