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Harvard – Jacks of all trades (and Jills, and ‘Julls’*) but Master of none

The University of Harvard has decided to eliminate the job title of ‘Master‘, (but not the degree title) for certain members of staff after protests that the title had connotations of slavery, although they maintain that there is no connection between the protests and the change, and degrees at ‘Master’ level are unaffected.

Harvard has not accepted that the use of “master” was a link to slavery, but it has responded to a campaign for a name change.
It will mean a change in job title for 24 members of staff – but will not affect other uses of “master”, such as a master’s level degree.

Of course, with one apparently trivial point conceded, other demands continue:

Student campaigners are also calling for a change in the official seal of Harvard Law School, with a sit-in being held this week.

The seal includes the coat of arms of 18th Century college donor Isaac Royall, who as well as establishing the college’s first professorship in law, was a notoriously brutal slaveholder.

Well yes, seals belong on the shore, in the seas, or perhaps at Lake Baikal etc., so I find some common (seal) cause, and harbour no ill-will.Seal

Otherwise, I have to say that I know next to nothing about American Universities, and I could not name the (5?) members of the ‘Ivy League’ with any certainty, but I do sense in this a canary dropping drowsily off its perch in the coal mine of self-referential academia as the flatulence builds up, with no outlet for its escape.

* Inclusive terms for those who are not ‘Jacks’.

Update: Harvard Law School has yielded to protests about its crest, which I assume is the same as the ‘seal’ issue. A flock of these, they are.

27 comments to Harvard – Jacks of all trades (and Jills, and ‘Julls’*) but Master of none

  • Clearly the students have too much time on their hands, through not having to study hard enough.

    The university should immediately up all the grade thresholds (or exam difficulty) so that an extra 20% drop a grade or fail.

    Best regards

  • Mark Green

    “Bachelor” will be the next one; archaic patriarchal and marriage-ist terms like this are too problematic for the snowflakes.

  • NickM

    I have a Master’s in Astrophysics which is raping the very Universe.

  • Regional

    Is there a Master of debating?

  • Laird

    Mr Ed, there are actually 8 members of the Ivy League. (You do know that it’s an athletic conference, characterized by the refusal to grant athletic “scholarships”, right?) I have my law degree from one of them (not Harvard, though).

    I find all this crap about digging to find the slightest historical connection to slavery, and then feigning righteous indignation and having the vapors over it, to be highly amusing. Especially at Harvard, since they are responsible for much of this idiocy. It couldn’t happen to a better place. And it’s most delicious when the source of the complaint is utter ignorance. “Master” in this sense (and most senses, come to that) is a reference to agency law (the principal-agent relationship), which itself derives from the ancient trade guilds and their apprenticeship processes. Its use in the slavery context is a relatively recent phenomenon (looking back over the entire history of the word), and is itself something of a corruption of the term. So the whole contretemps is founded on ignorance. Quite appropriate at a university.

  • Mr Ed

    Laird, Thank you and yes, it is amusing and anything that discredits these places is a net gain for civilisation.

    I would like to ask these protesters:

    Why did you come here knowing that you would benefit, in part, from the profits of slavery?

    Will you pay (higher) fees so that you do not get any indirect benefit from slavery whilst at this institution?

    Why don’t you actually try to learn something?

  • Freesherryful

    Oh dear…

  • PersonFromPorlock

    Neat. Wait ’til MIT realizes that ‘master-slave’ and ‘male-female’ are common terms in technology.

  • John Galt III

    So, better get rid of these too:

    US Military: Master Sergeant (Army, Air Force, Marines)
    Master Plumber
    Master Electrician
    Master Craftsman
    Master of Publican Administration
    Certified Master Inspector

    …..and on and on

    I have a Master’s from Harvard – MBA – I refuse to give these clowns any money at all. Their endowment is $37.6 billion and they cave to little pukes in the student body whenever one of them begins to cry.

    There are good, small colleges that still require their students to act like adults. I give them money all the time.

  • CaptDMO

    And no, this is by no means the canary in the coal-fired power plant slipping it’s mortal coil.
    That happened quite some time ago in the US institutions of “higher” certificate of participation.
    SEE: Title IX,
    also see- Student loans will NO LONGER be deemed dischargeable (by personal bankruptcy claims)
    A ploy once used by millennial’s progressive mummies and daddies.
    also see: Affirmative Action-“reinterpretation”
    (blah blah blah shall NOT exclude….to blah blah blah MUST be included, regardless of actual merit)

  • Nicholas (Excentrality!) Gray

    Why not just call them ‘Jerks’? At last, that term has a meaning!

  • mojo

    Me, I blame the sexist Guilds.

  • pete

    It isn’t just the US academia which goes in for new names for staff.

    A relative of mine works at a tinpot teacher training college which now calls itself a university.

    Originally it was divided into departments led by heads of departments. Then the departments were renamed directorates, each led by a director. And then the directorates were renamed faculties, each led by a dean. There are now lots of vice-deans, assistant deans and sub-deans too.

  • Eric

    Of course, with one apparently trivial point conceded, other demands continue.

    Which is why an institution should never, ever accede to these types of demands. The Birkenstock crowd sees it as a sign of weakness and is energized to demand yet more. If I’d been running Harvard I would have ignored the protesters. Anyone who started blocking roads or “occupying” administration offices would have been expelled.

  • Nick

    I am an alumnus of another Ivy named for a slave trader. It’s name is also synonymous with the color of feces, which is probably why they will never change the name of this university. I actually observed students defecating in public or on dorm room floors several times during my time there.

  • Rich Rostrom

    John Galt III – February 25, 2016 at 7:40 pm:

    Master of Publican Administration

    I want that degree!!!

  • Alisa

    These people are clearly not masters of their domain..

  • Surellin

    Next we will have to toss the title of maitre de hotel. And master of ceremonies. Chess grandmaster. And think of all those BDSM relationships that will suffer.

  • Watchman


    Master in universities is anyway not related to master in the guild sense, but is the anglicisation of the Latin Magister used for a teacher (as opposed to a truly learned Doctor) – although the guild master has the same origins. So the complaint here was ignorant about language as well as meaning. But then this is the problem with students – they need to study (as the name suggests) to be learned, and those that do not are pretty well by definition not worth listening to.

    I do actually wonder whether if a bunch of apprentice electrical fitters got together to complain about something they would get the same sort of audience as students do – but they are about the same age and since students are still learning, we cannot assume the electrical fitters are any less qualified to speak.

  • Mr Ed

    Well Watchman, if you’re going to bring Latin and those Romans into it, they had slavery too. They should go home as well.

  • Rob Fisher (Surrey)

    Mr Ed would like to ask, “Why did you come here knowing that you would benefit, in part, from the profits of slavery?” This is brilliantly evil! Protestors like these should be particularly vulnerable to such trolling.

  • All of them are just mass debaters.

  • Paul Marks

    If people do not fight back against the “Social Justice Warriors” they will destroy the West.

    “Absurd Paul – they are just kids”.

    Then why do they keep winning?

  • Paul Marks

    The answer to my question is that the establishment accepts the basic principles of the Social Justice Warriors (Frankfurt School “Critical Theory” and so on) – it just thinks the SJWs take these principles “too far” (“Political Correctness” “Gone Mad”).

    Whilst the basic PRINCIPLES are accepted then there is no hope.

    It is the principles (the basic doctrines of the Social Justice Warriors) that must be rejected – root as well as branch.

  • gongcult

    While an undergrad at BU I had a physics prof whose first name was Dean . He would regale us with tales of how he would call that tech school and that other college in Cambridge, MA. and mention it was Dean xxxxxxx calling. Got him past the bureaucracy frightfully quickly. Just shows you there are a lot of stupid f@#ks in east ciast academia. Who can’t differentiate between the dean -of-studies and a guy whose first name is “Dean”?

  • gongcult

    Sorry fat fingers typing.It should be “coast”.

  • Julie near Chicago

    “Just kids”?? Horsefeathers. I know two SJW’s personally. One is 68 and the other’s within hollering distance of 73.