Harvard’s Voice Puts Its Foot In Its Mouth

By Arturo R. García

Screencap (since deleted) from “5 People You’ll See at Pre-Interview Receptions.” Image via The Harvard Voice.

The image above was taken from an article published over the weekend in Very Noice, the online component of The Harvard Voice, a “student life” magazine dealing with “5 People” one encounters at job recruitment events. If you look at the piece now, however, you won’t see “The Asian,” described thusly:

You can always spot the Asian contingent at every pre-interview reception. They dress in the same way (satin blouse with high waisted pencil skirt for girls, suits with skinny ties for boys), talk in the same sort-of gushy, sort-of whiny manner, and have the same concentrations and sky-high GPAs. They’re practically indistinguishable from one another, but it’s okay. Soon, they will be looking at the same Excel spreadsheets and spend their lunch talking about their meaningful morning conversations with the helpdesk of Bloomberg. Uniqueness is overrated when you make six-figure salaries.

A Racialicious reader who attends the school sent us the screencap above from the original version of the piece Saturday evening. However, the reader emailed us later that evening saying the Voice’s editor, identified on the site as April Sperry, contacted readers saying “this piece was uploaded by an anonymous contributor without anyone else’s knowledge.” As our reader noted, this seems “bizarre,” considering the piece wasn’t taken down at that point.

That same evening, this comment allegedly appeared with the piece:

Note from the Writer: Clearly, I’ve been censored, which in itself is an interesting reflection on free speech in America. If you couldn’t tell that this article was satire, then we have bigger problems than me being “offensive.”

(If you are curious to know what the fifth stereotype is, just take a quick look around the room. JK!)

That fifth stereotype, which has not been removed from the article, is “The Hipster”:

The alternative kid spends most of their 20 minutes at the reception standing in a corner, mocking the Asian ass-kissers in their heads, and secretly hating themselves for being there and “selling out.” Make no mistake, at the end of the day, a plump job advising global conglomerates on how to expand their businesses is still far more desirable than manning the cashier at Petsi Pies, or slaving it out at some advertising internships. In 2005, 47% of Harvard graduates went into the finance and consulting industries. The figure last year (according to The [Harvard] Crimson was 22%, and you wonder how many of the 78% nearly died trying.

As the aforementioned Crimson, the school’s student newspaper, reported, the “Writer’s” whiny note was later removed. Also, comments were temporary deleted and disabled, and the byline was changed from “The Voice Staff” to “Anonymous.”

Last but not least, the “Asian” was replaced by “The Super-Interviewee”:

You’re bound to run into a few people over and over again at any kind of receptions: Hedge funds, investment banks, consulting firms, Abercrombie & Fitch, Taser International etc. You name it, they are there. They cast a wide net from New York, NY, to Columbus, OH, all the way to Scottsdale, AZ. It does not matter as long as the benefits packages are okay. They probably look very similar to one another – satin blouse and tight pencil skirts for girls, suits and skinny ties for boys. They probably major in Government, Psychology, or Economics. They probably have a sky-high GPA. They probably wrote their admission essays to Harvard about their passion saving children in Africa. Now, they spend their Wednesday afternoons (just before job applications are due) writing about how much they would love to either manage tens of billions of dollars in assets for the Trumps or create a new line of monogrammed sweatpants for Australian teenagers.

It’s okay. Passion is overrated when you make a six-figure salary. Besides, the African children can wait, right?

And the “Asian ass-kisser” joke remains on the site as of Tuesday morning.

Sperry addressed the incident in a column published late Monday night, with an opening line that is by now standard to this kind of incident:

First and foremost, an apology is in order. To anyone who was offended or in any manner hurt by the comments about Asian students in the recruiting process, The Voice is deeply sorry. No readers should feel attacked or singled out in a negative manner by our content.

Sperry also said the staff “did not collaborate to conceptualize or write this article.” Yet it was an unidentified staff member who accepted the piece, published it, and “mistakenly attributed it to the staff as a whole,” even while the staff doesn’t agree with the opinions presented.

As of Monday night, Sperry said, she did not know who wrote the piece, or why comments on it were temporarily disabled.

About This Blog

Racialicious is a blog about the intersection of race and pop culture. Check out our daily updates on the latest celebrity gaffes, our no-holds-barred critique of questionable media representations, and of course, the inevitable Keanu Reeves John Cho newsflashes.

Latoya Peterson (DC) is the Owner and Editor (not the Founder!) of Racialicious, Arturo García (San Diego) is the Managing Editor, Andrea Plaid (NYC) is the Associate Editor. You can email us at team@racialicious.com.

The founders of Racialicious are Carmen Sognonvi and Jen Chau. They are no longer with the blog. Carmen now runs Urban Martial Arts with her husband and blogs about local business. Jen can still be found at Swirl or on her personal blog. Please do not send them emails here, they are no longer affiliated with this blog.

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  • Anonymous

    The next person who whines that their free speech rights were violated because a private organization decided to self-censor should probably call the ACLU and complain. The ACLU could use a laugh once in a while.

  • Elevator_from_Duh_Shining

    Wow. I tend to think that societal racism has morphed into more subtle and insidious avenues, and then something as blatant and disgusting as this occurs.

    I also can’t stand non-apologies like the one that was issued in this incident. The whole, “Sorry you got offended,” schtick is a complete cop-out. How about taking responsibility for the racist and hurtful stereotypes you propagated?

  • Au Contraire

    I want to say “How horrible!”, but that seems like…well, a total understatement. This kind of outrageous racism seems to come in part from a place of jealousy with respect to the stereotype of the successful, hard-working Asian student, and it’s generally defended with “But that’s a good stereotype!”

  • Au Contraire

    I want to say “How horrible!”, but that seems like…well, a total understatement. This kind of outrageous racism seems to come in part from a place of jealousy with respect to the stereotype of the successful, hard-working Asian student, and it’s generally defended with “But that’s a good stereotype!”