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更新时间:2016-12-14 10:11:36 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

The ‘H-Bomb’ Fizzles: The Harvard Brand Takes a Hit

There exists a species of person — typically a well-groomed overachiever — who, when asked where he or she went to college, rather than state its name directly, will provide a Russian nesting doll set of geographical responses.


In New England. Massachusetts. Well, Boston. Um ... Cambridge.


Finally, sotto voce, with an apologetic wince or sheepish smile, anticipating the word’s being volleyed back in an affected Boston Brahmin accent: Harvard.


For decades, circumspect students and alumni of the nation’s oldest university have played “this unbearable little game,” said William Deresiewicz, author of “Excellent Sheep: The Miseducation of the American Elite & the Way to a Meaningful Life.” “They’re coy, because they don’t want to destroy our egos, but they can’t wait for the moment they drop the ‘H-bomb.'”

几十年来,出身本国最古老大学的这些言辞谨慎的在读生和毕业生们,一直在玩着廉姆·德莱塞维茨(William Deresiewicz)所说的“一个让人抓狂的小游戏”。这位《优秀的绵羊——失当的美国精英教育以及如何拥有富于意义的人生》(Excellent Sheep: The Miseducation of the American Elite & the Way to a Meaningful Life)一书的作者说,“他们这样忸忸怩怩,是因为不想摧毁我们的自尊,但是,他们又迫不及待地想把那颗H打头的氢弹扔下来。”

(Marc Philippe Eskenazi, a writer and comedian who graduated from Harvard in 2010, has an incisive stand-up riff in which he cycles through these cagey contortions.)

(2010年毕业于哈佛的作家、单口相声演员马克·菲利普·埃什肯纳齐[Marc Philippe Eskenazi]有个犀利的单口段子,将这套小心翼翼的花样表演一一呈现。)

This coyness may be no crime, but a genuine wish not to appear bigheaded for their association with an institution that is shorthand for the acme of academe. No matter Harvard’s perch in that year’s rankings in U.S. News & World Report (currently No. 2, after Princeton), it remains peerless in global cachet. It is the university boasting the most presidents among its graduates (eight, including the law and business schools), and the one that, despite prohibitions against on-campus filming, is cast in movies and TV shows, for every genre from love stories to law-school comedies, to italicize its characters’ intellects and — how do you like them apples? — elite status.

这种矫情不是什么罪,可能只是真心希望不要因为自己归属于一个堪称学术巅峰代名词的机构而显得自大。无论那一年它在《美国新闻与世界报道》(U.S. News & World Report)上排第几(目前屈居第二,仅次于普林斯顿),哈佛在世界上的声望始终是无人能及的。它拥有造就最多总统的傲人成就(将法学院和商学院毕业生包括在内共计八人),尽管校园内禁止拍摄,它仍然出现在从爱情片到法学院喜剧的各种影视剧中,以此突显剧中人物的杰出才智,以及精英地位——看到这个你们就乖乖闭上嘴吧。

Yet after several incidents that have besmirched the university’s reputation, and in an era of heightened self-consciousness over privilege, that formerly contrived embarrassment may be ceding to sincere shame and a reassessment of the merits of a Harvard education.


The university has been in the news quite a bit lately. Its gargantuan $35.7 billion endowment, the largest in the country by far, was cited in articles about dining-hall workers who went on a successful three-week strike for a salary increase to $35,000 per year. The school canceled the men’s soccer team’s season after the discovery of a 2012 “scouting report” in which team members rated the sexual appeal of individuals on the women’s team; the men’s cross-country team was just placed on athletic probation for doing the same thing in 2014.

近年来哈佛频频见诸报端。学校餐厅的工人举行了为期三周的罢工,成功将年薪涨至3.5万美元,在一篇报道此事的文章中,提到哈佛坐拥357亿美元的捐款,为全美最高,远超其他任何一所院校。校方取消了男子足球校队整个赛季的赛事,因为发现在2012年的一份“星探报告”中,男队员们对女队队员的性吸引力进行了评分;男子越野队则刚刚因为在2014年有类似的行为,被给予“运动察看”(athletic probation)处分。

The brand has also had an unexpected collision with that of the incoming presidential administration. Stephen K. Bannon, Donald J. Trump’s chief strategist and the former executive chair of Breitbart News, is a 1985 graduate of Harvard Business School. More than 600 female students and alumnae signed a letter to The New York Times denouncing his selection by Trump, accusing him of engineering “a movement that preaches white nationalism, racism, misogyny and hatred.” Bannon dropped out of a postelection event at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, perhaps because of a planned large protest.

这个品牌也同即将上任的新一届政府产生了意外的冲突。唐纳德·J·特朗普(Donald J. Trump)的首席策略师及布莱巴特新闻(Breitbart News)网站前董事长史蒂芬·K·班农(Stephen K. Bannon)1985年毕业于哈佛商学院。600多名该校女学生和女性校友签名致信《纽约时报》谴责特朗普选择他,并指责班农策划了“一场宣扬白人民族主义、种族主义、歧视女性和仇恨的运动”。班农没有参加一场在哈佛大学约翰·F·肯尼迪政府学院(John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard)举行的选后活动,或许是因为有人计划发起大规模抗议行动。

Daniel Golden’s 2006 book, “The Price of Admission,” about how the rich buy their way into elite schools, has become newly relevant for its disclosure that Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, received acceptance to Harvard despite an unremarkable academic record, possibly thanks to his father’s donation of $2.5 million. (A spokeswoman for Kushner denied the allegation, noting that Kushner graduated with honors; Golden observed that, in a climate of rampant grade inflation, so did about 90 percent of Kushner’s graduating class of 2003.)

丹尼尔·戈尔登(Daniel Golden)于2006年出版的书《入学的价格》(The Price of Admission)讲述富人如何靠花钱进入精英学校,这本书最近变得更加相关,因为它披露特朗普的女婿,贾里德·库什纳(Jared Kushner)尽管学术纪录平平,却被哈佛录取,而这可能是因为他父亲捐赠了250万美元。(库什纳的发言人否认了这一指控,指出库什纳毕业时拿到了荣誉学位;戈尔登指出,在分数通胀盛行的大环境下,库什纳2003年毕业时,他那一届约有90%的学生都拿到了荣誉学位。)

Along with members of Trump’s inner circle, some of Harvard’s most notable recent students include Mark Zuckerberg, recently under fire for the dissemination of fake news on Facebook, and an annually replenishing army of aspiring Gekkos who are routinely blamed, accurately or not, for the country’s economic inequality and crises. (The acquisitive-rather-than-inquisitive Harvard graduate is not a baseless stereotype: Nearly two-fifths of the class of 2016 said they were going into finance or consulting, with an additional 14 percent heading into technology. By comparison, just 6 percent went into nonprofit or public service work, and 4 percent into education.)

除了特朗普内部圈子的几个成员,哈佛大学近期最著名的学生还包括马克·扎克伯格(Mark Zuckerberg),最近他因为Facebook上假新闻的传播而遭到抨击,此外还有大批野心勃勃的华尔街大亨,他们常被指责(不管正确与否)造成了国家的经济不平等和危机,他们的名单每年都在扩充。(哈佛大学毕业生更为贪婪而不是更爱钻研,这并不是一个毫无根据的刻板印象:2016年的学生中,有近2/5表示他们正准备进入金融或咨询领域,另有14%的人选择科技业,相比之下,只有6%的人进入非营利或公共服务领域,4%的人进入教育领域。)

The rose-garden perfume of privilege — as charged a word as can be found on campuses these days — emanating from anyone with a Harvard diploma receives more censure now than ever, whether that privilege came in the form of significant parental help in gaining admission or was acquired at the school and now opens endless doors.


Harvard remains flush with children of the rich. According to a survey of the current freshman class, over a third of the student body comes from families earning more than $250,000 a year (the wealthiest 4 percent of households), with more students from the $500,000-and-up 1 percenters than $40,000-and-below families. These demographics are similar to those found at other selective colleges, as is Harvard’s discrepancy between its stated commitment to economic diversity and whom it accepts. A 2005 book, “Equity and Excellence in American Higher Education,” determined that, all else being equal, top schools do not offer any admission advantage to low-income students, despite lip service to the contrary.

哈佛大学中依然充斥着富人的子女。根据对目前大一新生的调查,超过1/3的学生来自年收入超过25万美元的家庭(最富有的4%的家庭),来自年收入在50万美元及以上的“百里挑一”家庭的学生人数超过来自年收入在4万美元及以下家庭学生。这些人口统计数据与其他择优录取学生的大学类似,表明哈佛大学在其对经济多样性的承诺与招生的实际情况之间存在差异。2005年的《平等和美国高等教育的优越性》(Equity and Excellence in American Higher Education)一书证实,在其他条件相同情况下,名校在录取学生时不会更倾向于低收入学生,尽管他们口头的说法完全相反。

Yet the number of Harvard applications has soared the past three years, now at a record high, with 34 percent more for the class of 2020 than for 2013. Some parents, though, including alumni, are rebelling against the Harvard-or-bust mentality, not only because of the stresses it places on their overworked children, but from misgivings about the conformist and careerist atmosphere of the Ivy Leagues.


Nick F. Barber, a current senior, wrote in 2014 in The Harvard Crimson, the daily student newspaper, that “privilege — and more importantly what privilege says about each of our characters — makes us uncomfortable. Our privilege forces us to question our worthiness and our merit, two of the things most highly valued at an institution like this one.”

尼克·F·巴伯(Nick F. Barber)是大四学生,2014年,他在学生日报《哈佛深红》(The Harvard Crimson)上撰文写道,“特权――更重要的是,特权向他人传递出的关于我们的品性的信息――令我们不舒服。我们的特权迫使我们质疑自己的价值,是否够好,在我们这样的院校,这是最受重视的两件事。”