Harvard To Drop Traditional “House Master” Title As Racially Insensitive

200px-harvard_wreath_logo_1svgHarvard University has long followed the ancient tradition of British schools in naming “Masters” for undergraduate residential houses. These are senior faculty members who serve as the chief administrative officers for each of the houses. The school has announced that that long-standing term will be dropped as racially insensitive for African American students, even though it has nothing to do with slavery or racism.

The term “master” was originally derived from words like “schoolmaster” and “headmaster” and have long been a tradition at such esteemed institutions as Oxford and Cambridge. Nevertheless, students and faculty have objected to possible connotations of racism and slavery.

Harvard College Dean Rakesh Khurana announced in an email that the title will be trashed:

“I write on behalf of myself and my fellow residential House leaders to let you know that the House Masters have unanimously expressed desire to change their title. In the coming weeks, the College will launch a process in which members of the House leaders’ docket committee, working with senior College team members and the House leadership community as a whole, will suggest a new title that reflects the current realities of the role.”

Notably Khurana’s bio still lists his service as “co-Master” of Cabot House. Khurana told the the school newspaper that he has “not felt comfortable personally with the title.”

I can understand that some students might be concerned about the term when they first arrive at Harvard. However, since the term is not connected historically to slavery, it would seem like a case could be made for the preservation of the tradition through better understanding of its meaning and origins. The concern is that traditional terms or titles will be set aside despite their misinterpretation by some students or faculty. I can honestly understand the negative connotation raised by the title “House Master.” Indeed, this may be the ultimate decision for the majority of the students, faculty and staff of Harvard. A case can certainly be made that, despite its non-racist origins, it is now a term associated with racial supremacy. Yet, it would seem worthy of a greater public debate on how to handle historically non-racist terms that are interpreted as offensive on a contemporary basis.

What do you think?

Source: Washington Post

55 thoughts on “Harvard To Drop Traditional “House Master” Title As Racially Insensitive”

  1. Will we have to stop growing cotton in the south because slaves picked it a few hundred years ago? How about a world wide ban on growing cotton. After all, it is a very racially insensitive plant.

  2. what does magistrate mean? it means master. these fools and those who pander to them are idiots.

  3. FartinDog here. I fail to see why any human would go to some weeny place like Harvard or Yale. Find a good state school for your legal education and go out when you are done and practice law without a burka on your head. When I hear the name Harvard then I smell a rat. And I can smell even though I fart a lot.

  4. Paul – the Pageant of the Masters is awesome. I love it too. (I was attempting to be facetious. 🙂 )

  5. Well, for the men’s dorm the leader could be Top Dog and the women’s dorm the leader could be Bottom Dog. Or I can ask HumpinDog what he thinks on the topic.


    “Political Correctness” is enforced by commissars “responsible for political education and organization.”





    noun: commissar; plural noun: commissars

    an official of the Communist Party, especially in the former Soviet Union or present-day China, responsible for political education and organization.

  7. Kowtowing to the ignoramuses who hear the word master and can think only of slavery is worse than the ignorance the administrators are kowtowing to. This is offensive in the extreme, not because of the politically questionable preferences of the immature and childish insistence of some to conflate things that have nothing to do with one another but when you give in to bullies once you invite more bullying. These sophomoric demands of some undergrads around the country that are just plain idiotic like this are nothing more than immature young people taking advantage of the situation that exists in this moment just as teenagers and other immature young adults will do with their parents when presented with the opportunity. I understand how they “feel” about this, but their feeling has nothing to do with reality and needs to be dismissed as the unreasonable and foolish demand that it is.

  8. Americans have freedom of thought, speech, press, religion, assembly and the right to possession and disposition of private property.

    Government is limited to Justice, Tranquility, Common Defence, Promote General Welfare

    Harvard rejects those freedoms and rights while accepting big government control, preferring the “newspeak” dictates of the presidium and the enforcement of the commissars.

    The Founding Fathers were said to have been geniuses.

    Who is running Harvard?

  9. pre·sid·i·um



    noun: presidium; plural noun: presidiums; noun: praesidium; plural noun: praesidiums

    a standing executive committee in a communist country.

    •the standing executive committee in the former Soviet Union, which functioned as the legislative authority when the Supreme Soviet was not sitting.

  10. Commissars assure adherence to the principles of communism.

    Central Planning
    Control of the Means of Production
    Social Engineering
    Redistribution of Wealth

  11. com·mis·sar



    noun: commissar; plural noun: commissars

    an official of the Communist Party, especially in the former Soviet Union or present-day China, responsible for political education and organization.

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