“Will you be my gender queer / gender non-conforming Valentine?”
That’s a question not asked this Valentine’s Day on the “Datamatch” matchmaking website, run by Harvard students at the Harvard Computer Society. And the campus is an an uproar over it, according to an article in today’s Harvard Crimson.
As ably summarized by Emily Zanotti at Heat Street, “the dastardly programmers” behind the Datamatch website are “in big trouble” because the website was usable by only males and females. Of course, that implies that being either male or female is somehow normal. Students had no box to check that they are, for example, “gender queer” or “gender non-conforming.” [Update, Feb. 16: College Fix apparently was first to break this story nationally.]
So Valentine Day’s “Datamatch 2017” at Harvard “drew criticism from students for what some called its ‘disconcerting’ presentation of a non-binary gender response field.” (Under the matchmaking service, Harvard Square restaurants give free meals to couples who match.)
One student, junior Darius Johnson, was especially flummoxed by the male-female matchmaking service. “I saw that the options were male, female, and then you had to put any other gender identity markers into this ‘extra’ section that was at the end of it,” Johnson told the Crimson. “That wording—or that separation—was super disconcerting to me, of the two binary options being the ‘normal’ options, and anything else being the extra. I thought that was a huge oversight on their part.”
Can’t have that — especially at ultra-leftist Harvard!
Fortunately, this grave evil was quickly redressed, as Harvard’s student leaders swung into action.
The President and Vice President of Harvard’s Undergraduate Council, juniors Yasmin Sachee and Cameron Khansarinia, joined by 24 other Council members, “signed a letter admonishing Datamatch’s restrictive gender choices.”
But that was just the start of big trouble for little Datamatch. Next, the BGLTQ+ Caucus Chair on the Undergraduate Council, sophomore Nick Whittaker (whose Twitter feed suggests he’s a ladies’ man, despite publicly identifying as gay just in time to apply to Harvard on that diversity-enhancing basis), complaining that “Datamatch implicitly excluded” those who are gender non-conforming and gender queer “from the experience” — and arguing: “The idea of it being romantic does not necessitate the idea that it be stuck upon strict gender bearings.”
Whittaker also suggested, the Crimson reports, that Datamatch “eliminate all references to gender and become a strictly platonic service.”
This farce, of course, could not be complete unless someone involved in Datamatch promptly made an abject apology for having assumed it’s normal for a Harvard student to identify either as male or female. To be the perfect farce, ideally the person issuing the apology would be a member of a group even more worshiped by leftists than people who have gender-identification issues. Maybe even an illegal alien?
Well, that’s exactly what happened.
Meet the apologist-in-chief, Javier Cuan-Martinez, an illegal alien from Mexico. Senator Dick Durbin, the second-highest ranking Democrat in the U.S. Senate, just two months ago, in a series of tweets, outed Cuan-Martinez as an illegal alien.
Cuan-Martinez is co-president of the Harvard Computing Society, and apologized in person to the student leaders, at the Undergraduate Council meeting on Feb. 12. According to the Crimson, he said that the Society “regretted offending students,” and stated: “I, on behalf of the Harvard Computer Society and on Datamatch, take full responsibility for the exclusion that we have created on campus.”
The Crimson reports that the Undergraduate Council “plans to work with Datamatch’s team going forward to ensure a more inclusive platform.” The Undergraduate Council has vowed “to ensure that Datamatch remains accountable, and we promise to make sure that Datamatch 2018 includes all identities.”
Wonderful news, to be sure. Next year, it’s not just males and females (straight or gay) who will be able to get free meals in Harvard Square restaurants. Students of all genders will have that right. If anyone tells you that social-justice warriors never accomplish anything, you tell them: Remember Harvard in February, 2017!
Update (Feb. 17): Yesterday’s Harvard Crimson included this editorial emphasizing the need to make Datamatch more inclusive. A sample:
A binary conceptualization of gender does not leave space for the representation of individuals whose gender identity falls out of the binary. Forcing students to choose a gender identity that is restricted to two fields centers cisgendered norms and erases the multiplicity of nonconforming gender identities.
We feel that continued use of a gender binary on the survey demonstrates an oversight regarding the diversity of our student population. Datamatch’s constrictions show the shortcomings of current pushes to make Harvard a more inclusive space for all identities.
Update 2 (Feb. 19): The Blaze had this article on Feb. 16: “Harvard Computer Society under fire over Valentine’s Day dating app — with only two genders.” It links to a Facebook post by one of the Datamatch programmers on which many interesting comments have been left.