Last year, Harvard spent $600,000, more than any other Ivy League school, lobbying the federal government on issues relating to the University and its students. The University has indicated that its lobbying efforts have been primarily focused on thwarting the endowment tax, protecting research funding and student aid, and ensuring legal protection for undocumented “Dreamers.”
We commend the University’s efforts to defend the interests of its community and encourage Harvard to continue doing so. These issues have real implications for many members of our community, and it is crucial that the University supports them. While prevailing political attitudes have become increasingly hostile towards Harvard and other institutions of higher education in the last few years, the University’s steady increase of lobbying funds since 2011 shows its commitment to confronting this challenge head on.
While lobbying funds this year are $10,000 less than last year’s, this decrease does not seem significant or indicative of a shift in stance regarding the intensity of lobbying efforts. Furthermore, we are comforted by Harvard’s reassurances that it is fully committed to continuing the fight against policies in Washington that are dangerous for higher education or students in our community.
In light of this commitment, we encourage the University to specifically continue to prioritize immigration issues, given their tremendous human impact. Harvard has a responsibility to fight to ensure the status of its students, faculty, and staff, and we hope that the University takes up the task at hand with moral conviction and seriousness of purpose. Former University President Drew G. Faust set a precedent of advocating for undocumented members of the Harvard community, and we are pleased to see that so far University President Lawrence S. Bacow has followed her lead.
The University should also continue to combat endowment taxation with the full force of its political clout. Harvard must operate at its full financial capacity to adequately provide the infrastructure and support that faculty, staff, and students depend on every day. The more Harvard receives through its endowment, the more capably it can provide financial aid for students, wages for staff, funding for research, as well as many other provisions for its community.
It is reassuring that lobbying in support of sanctions seems to have taken a backseat to these more important issues. Though our support for the University’s sanctioning of male final clubs remains, we believe that the University should focus its lobbying priorities elsewhere. While the issue is at the heart of debates over social life on campus, concerns for the safety of undocumented students and the integrity of the critical research agendas across the University must take precedence.
While we stand in favor of Harvard’s lobbying practices, it bears mentioning that as a systemic phenomenon, lobbying has a pernicious effect on American politics. It incentivizes politicians to often act on the behalf of donors as opposed to actual constituents, and reform is necessary to cure the many of these problems. Nevertheless, until reform is achieved, Harvard should continue to work within the system to protect members of our community and promote its policy goals.
This staff editorial solely represents the majority view of The Crimson Editorial Board. It is the product of discussions at regular Editorial Board meetings. In order to ensure the impartiality of our journalism, Crimson editors who choose to opine and vote at these meetings are not involved in the reporting of articles on similar topics.