An editorial writer candidate has accused The Harvard Crimson of excluding Jewish students from editorial or columnist positions on its staff. Junior Justin Danilewitz alleges that he and another writer were discriminated against as part of the new editorial chairs' pledge to "diversify the staff."
In the April issue of Commentary magazine, a publication of the American Jewish Committee, Danilewitz, who had been a frequent guest columnist for the Crimson, writes that he was excluded from the Crimson's editorial board because he is Jewish. He also writes that Eric Nelson, a Jewish columnist, was dismissed from the staff.
In his article, Danilewitz refers to a conversation with former Crimson Managing Editor Valerie MacMillan in which she cited "the problem" of too many Jewish columnists. According to the article, she disclosed documents that showed seven or eight of the paper's columnists were Jews. He reasons that an "unofficial" quota system is inevitable due to the new plan to "diversify the newspaper's staff."
Nelson, who was appointed a columnist during his freshman year, was dismissed because "he said his piece," Crimson president Matthew Granade, said.
Danilewitz said, however, that the dismissal was unprecedented. "As far as I know, (Nelson is) the first to be dismissed before tenure," he said.
Danilewitz said that Nelson is clearly a competent writer. "I believe it was generally believed he was good. The Crimson editors have agreed to as much," Danielwitz said. He added it was "possible but not likely" that his dismissal was due to a factor other than his religion.
The Crimson editors have stated that there is a need "to diversify," according to Granade.
"The Crimson makes an effort to reflect the diversity in the Harvard community. We do this in as an inclusive way as possible," he added.
Dismissing Danilewitz's accusation that the "unofficial quota" would place a higher priority on diversity than merit, Granade said, "Absolutely not. It's a factor. When one group is obviously underrepresented on our paper, we go out and pull them in."
The Crimson admitted six additional columnists to the staff including black, Islamic and female students among them.
The Forward, a Jewish publication, reported in March that Nelson said he was "shocked and disappointed" when he found out he was being removed from the staff. He said the Crimson gave him "global reasons" for his dismissal, pointing to an "out with the old, in with the new" attitude as well as "the need to diversify."
Granade was the only member of the Crimson editorial board who could be reached for comment yesterday.