Some members of the Harvard community have expressed concerns regarding the upcoming Social Transformation Conference, taking place on April 1-2, 2011. There are concerns that this student-produced and facilitated conference may be promoting negative sentiment toward specific groups.
The Harvard Extension Student Association (HESA) does not endorse the views of any particular club and does not have final authority to approve or restrict student club events. As members of the Harvard community, students and student clubs are afforded both the right and independence to engage in an open and free exchange of ideas. We have been assured by the student organizers that this conference is not intended to foster enmity toward any group, and even if the conference were viewed as such, Harvard maintains the policy of student independence for such discussion.
We have conferred with the Dean of Students Office, the Harvard Extension administration and Harvard University to confirm that HESLS has remained consistent with university guidelines. In addition, HESA President Philip Harding is working in coordination with HESLS and other concerned Harvard student groups to facilitate a round table meeting in order to foster positive discussion moving forward.
Harvard Extension Student Association
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HESLS conference organizers have released an independent statement:
The Harvard Extension Service & Leadership Society (HESLS) is hosting a Social Transformation Conference on April 1-2, 2011. The theme of the conference is Social Transformation by the Power of God. This is a faith-based event and our speaker line-up includes faith-based leaders from Christian and traditional Jewish backgrounds. While there has been overwhelming positive reaction about the conference, we have also received some negative feedback. This conference is focused not on drawing lines of division, but on providing an opportunity for students and the community at large to explore how we can transform or improve our society. We have been assured by our speakers that they have not supported any hatred directed towards any group, and that allegations to the contrary are untrue and/or misinterpreted.
Harvard University has always been a center of informed debate, free speech and academic freedom. This campus has embraced intellectual diversity by inviting speakers representing a wide range of opinions and beliefs. Accordingly, HESLS programs are wide-ranging in topic and planned collaboratively by a diverse team of students. We have hosted or helped to organize events including those focused on negotiation, leadership, entrepreneurship, conflict resolution, international relations, public service, and debates on opposing ideologies. This conference will address how we can leverage our faith and related principles to create passion and drive to do good in our world. It’s about social transformation, social entrepreneurship, socially responsible business, faith in the workplace, and about clarifying our mission and purpose in life.
We look forward to a successful event and hope to see many of you there.