published : 2023-09-08

Harvard Professor Reveals Military Members Keep Service Quiet to Avoid Backlash from Classmates

Harvard Earns Abysmal Rating on College Free Speech Rankings

A photo of a military veteran studying quietly in a Harvard classroom, taken with a Nikon D850.

A Harvard professor has sounded the alarm regarding military members who feel hesitant to disclose their military status to classmates, citing concerns over potential backlash. This revelation came in light of Harvard University's recent 'abysmal' ranking in terms of free speech on campuses, according to a nonprofit organization devoted to the First Amendment.

Kit Parker, a bioengineering professor at Harvard, spoke out during an interview with 'Fox & Friends First,' sharing stories he has heard from military veterans who choose to keep their service under wraps. These veterans believe that it is better not to disclose their military background to classmates or faculty members.

Parker acknowledged the impact this has on the design and delivery of courses, emphasizing that faculty members ultimately make the decision regarding how much risk they are willing to assume in their teaching or public statements.

Harvard's low ranking was assigned by the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE), an organization advocating for free speech and religious liberty. The group assigned Harvard an 'Abysmal' speech climate rating, stating that the university received a 'generous' score of 0.00.

A candid shot of Kit Parker, the Harvard bioengineering professor, engaging in a passionate discussion about free speech, taken with a Canon EOS R5.

Parker, however, asserts that despite the ranking, conditions at Harvard are still supportive of free speech and academic freedom. He suggests that it is up to faculty members to decide whether they want to take the risk of exercising this freedom.

The concept of academic freedom holds great importance in fostering a state of mind characterized by openness to novel ideas and their supporting arguments, according to Parker. He emphasizes that the pursuit of excellence in colleges goes beyond obtaining a diploma and instead centers around cultivating an environment where students can transition from consumers to producers of ideas.

Issues surrounding free speech extend far beyond Harvard, as a large number of college students worry about potential damage to their reputation when their words or actions are misinterpreted. A significant portion of students also reported feeling pressured to avoid discussing controversial topics in class. These concerns were highlighted in FIRE's report.

Parker attributes the campus climate to leadership, stressing the need for strong leadership to address problems related to academic freedom. With Harvard recently appointing a new president, Parker expresses optimism for the future.

A close-up image of a student holding a diploma, symbolizing the pursuit of excellence in academia at Harvard University, taken with a Sony A7 III.

Harvard's low ranking in the free speech report was compounded by the inclusion of other universities such as the University of Pennsylvania, the University of South Carolina, Georgetown University, and Fordham University. On the other hand, the top five performing institutions in the report were Michigan Technological University, Auburn University, the University of New Hampshire, Oregon State University, and Florida State University.

Fox News reached out to Harvard for comment on the findings, but has yet to receive a response.