In Wisconsin we affectionately refer to uber-liberal Madison as “77 Square Miles Surrounded By Reality” (less affectionately, as a “Communist community). Could there possibly be a place on Earth that’s more insulated from reality than Madison?
The reality-insulation bubble surrounding Harvard University in even more liberal Cambridge, Massachusetts, is a powerful one.
Powerful enough that, back in 2013, the Harvard Crimson published an editorial urging politically minded conservatives “to neither apply, enroll, nor graduate from” Harvard, a position its president defended on national television.
Powerful enough that of those teaching at Harvard who made political contributions to presidential candidates, 91% donated to Hillary Clinton, and no one donated a penny to the Republican frontrunners (Donald Trump and Ted Cruz).
Powerful enough that, even before the election, one of the law professors called for “riots in the streets” to block “sociopath” Trump from taking office, if he were to win.
Powerful enough that, after the election, another law professor worked energetically in a quixotic quest to rig the Electoral College vote against Trump.
Powerful enough that Trump enjoyed only 6% support among students on campus.
Powerful enough that Trump enjoyed only 12% support even among Republican students; that the students in the Harvard Republican Club refused to endorse Trump (instead publicly denouncing him); and that the Republican students who traveled to New Hampshire to do campaign work only helped on a Senate campaign, and pointedly refused to help Trump.
Powerful enough that students reacted to Trump’s victory on Nov. 8 with “disbelief” over a “nightmare,” leaving them so “distraught” (with their “physical and emotional wellbeing” imperiled) that professors rescheduled exams and assignments in an effort to help them cope (although somehow they managed to find time to stage a protest). The professors themselves were “shocked and disheartened.” Even Harvard’s president called the situation “frightening.”
Powerful enough that the Harvard Crimson has called for constant protests against Trump “over the course of the next four years,” urging that “[w]e all have a responsibility to fight the hatred and fear that are central to the President-elect’s rhetoric.”
But is Harvard’s reality-insulation bubble all-powerful? Powerful enough even to override the naked self interest of the students themselves?
Actually, no. Not that powerful.
It turns out that even at liberally deranged Harvard University, the students teaching fellows and assistants (both graduate and undergraduate) were clear-eyed enough to vote down a ridiculous proposal by the United Auto Workers to unionize them, and authorize union leaders to act as middlemen in deciding what’s in the best interest of these “workers” regarding their dealings with the University.
As the Harvard Crimson reports today, despite being overwhelmingly liberal and generally pro-union, and despite being rushed into a decision, most of these Harvard students are grounded enough in reality to realize that they’re probably more intelligent than the average auto worker, and probably capable of managing their own dealings with the University without the “help” of union bosses, under union representation which might actually leave them financially worse off.
Of course, the liberal writers at the Crimson don’t exactly put it that way. Instead they focus on the puzzlement and surprise around campus that the unionization vote failed. Indeed, they bury the lede. They never report that the (non-final) unionization vote “lost” or “failed.” Not until paragraph 5 does the reader learn that the initial vote count “showed that [sic; the] majority of counted ballots in Harvard’s election were [sic] not in favor of unionization.” (It’s sad that even Harvard students, writing for a supposedly prestigious newspaper, can’t manage to write proper English.)
And here, they only report the raw vote total (1,456 against the union; 1,272 for it), leaving it to the reader to calculate that unionization lost by a 7-point margin, hardly a squeaker.
What does this story tell us, or at least remind us, about liberals? Three things:
1. “Rigged.” It seems that whenever liberals lose an election to conservatives that they expected to win, they claim the election was “rigged.” Now it turns out that even when liberals lose an election to other liberals, they’ll claim that the other liberals rigged the election. Thus, as the Crimson reports, the disappointed pro-union forces claim that overwhelmingly liberal Harvard administrators suppressed the vote, even though “[o]ver 90 percent of eligible students . . . voted in the election.”
2. Political Correctness. The main reason union organizers were surprised to lose this vote, the Crimson reports, was that “in February 2016, more than 60 percent of graduate students employed by the University had signed authorization cards supporting a union election, indicating significant student interest in unionization.” But in relying on this metric, the union organizers ignored the effect of political correctness, especially on a campus as liberal as Harvard’s.
Anyone with a solid grasp of reality would have realized that many who signed the authorization cards, when pressed to sign by aggressive union organizers, did so only to avoid being labeled a non-PC opponent of unionization — note the vitriol directed at those who openly opposed a union. And the Crimson‘s reporting bears that out:
While union organizers point to authorization cards from February as an indicator that the effort would succeed, some opponents of unionization say that the cards were not an accurate way of determining voters’ views. [Molecular biology grad student John] Froberg said that the number of authorization cards may not have been a true reflection of support for the unionization effort.
Union effort organizers asked graduate students to sign the cards last year to demonstrate their support for forming a union. The NLRB requires 30 percent of eligible employees in a workplace to sign authorization cards in order to go forward with a unionization election.
“[Organizers] were extremely aggressive about getting you to sign the authorization card. They didn’t necessarily explain what the authorization card was, or what the union was,” said Froberg, “And they kept coming around multiple times . . . so I think a lot of people were like: ‘Hey, I’ll sign this thing, and so you’ll stop coming after me.
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“Among my lab—six students—I’m the only one who didn’t sign a card, but every single one of us voted against it, ultimately,” said Froberg.
3. Bubble-Within-a-Bubble. Finally, the Crimson story illustrates that social-justice warriors on liberal campuses, virtually all of whom specialize in “soft” fields of study, particularly in the humanities, are operating within their own special bubble, making it difficult for them to understand the perspective of other students who live outside this special bubble.
Harvard students of this ilk, who have few options other than employment at a university, and whose duties center heavily on teaching, have little bargaining power in negotiating on their own with university administrators. Thus, it might not be completely ridiculous for them to believe that they might benefit from union representation (despite the cost and complexity involved) given the additional leverage in employment negotiations that collective bargaining creates. By contrast, Harvard students living outside this bubble-within-a-bubble have little reason to even seriously consider unionization.
Rather than understand, and act on, this reality, the social-justice warriors behind the union drive at Harvard pressed to include all student fellows and teaching assistants within the bargaining unit, including those in “STEM” fields — and it’s that decision which apparently proved fatal to the union drive. The Crimson reports:
Some students said that graduate students in the sciences may have been less likely to support unionization than students in the humanities. The different incentives for the respective groups of graduate students may have affected the way they voted, some students said.
“Our wages are comparatively much higher, we generally don’t do much teaching, we’re generally less dependent on having teaching, we’re generally more free, so I think in terms of the immediate obvious benefits, they’re much greater for students in the humanities,” said Jean Fan, a graduate student in biomedical informatics at the Medical School who said she voted in favor of unionization.
* * *
Some students who opposed unionization questioned if a single union would be able to effectively bargain for graduate students in different disciplines and with different work environments.
“It’s better to be specific. GSAS is very different from other departments, and maybe it would be better to have different unions in different departments,” said Wenlong Yang, a graduate student in chemistry, “To mix everything together … I think that is a place where you would have very low efficiency. You have all those different people, and different people have different needs.”
Kudoes to the majority of Harvard students who voted in the election, for managing to poke through the reality-insulating bubble which surrounds Harvard just long enough to reject the liberal hive-mind, pro-union orthodoxy and vote (at least in secret) for the outcome that advances their own best interest.