Cornel West, the esteemed scholar and activist known for his work on race and equality as well as his social commentary, resigned from Harvard University and heavily criticized the Ivy League school in his resignation letter.
West, 68, posted his resignation to Twitter Monday (July 12). In the letter, dated June 30, West suggests that discrimination drove him to leave Harvard’s Divinity School.
“How sad it is to see our beloved Harvard Divinity School in such decline and decay,” West wrote in the letter. “The disarray of a scattered curriculum, the disenchantment of talented yet deferential faculty, and the disorientation of precious students loom large.”
He goes on to accuse the school of sweeping all of his courses into the Afro American Religious Studies category among other things.
“With a few glorious and glaring exceptions, the shadow of Jim Crow was cast in its new glittering form expressed in the language of superficial diversity,” he wrote.
West announced March 8 that he was leaving Harvard University’s Divinity School after his request to be reviewed for tenure was denied. West told The Boycott Times that he would be moving to Union Theological Seminary in New York City. He has taught at Harvard’s law school, divinity school, and department of African and African American studies, according to the The Boston Globe.
West had taught at Harvard before, leaving the school after a dispute with then-university president Larry Summers in 2002, before returning for his current tenure in 2017. West wrote that when he returned to Harvard, he received a lower salary than he first made 15 years earlier and was not offered tenure in 2017.
He also said Harvard put all of his courses under the Afro-American Religious Studies program despite their different subjects, calling his treatment, “the shadow of Jim Crow was cast in its new glittering form expressed in the language of superficial diversity.”
West also accused Harvard professors and faculty of “cowardly deference to the anti-Palestinian prejudices of the Harvard administration,” claiming that he was denied tenure because of the administration’s “hostility to the Palestinian cause.”
Jonathan Beasley, a spokesman for Harvard’s Divinity School, responded Tuesday (July 12), saying simply: “The School has no comment on Dr. West’s letter,” according to the The Washington Post.