The Daily Agenda for Monday, May 23
May 23rd, 2011
Dharun Ravi’s First Court Appearance: Middlesex Co., NJ. Dharun Ravi is due to make his first court appearance today to face 15 felony counts for allegedly using Molly Wei’s laptop to remotely activate the camera in the room he shared with Tyler Clementi on Rutgers’ Piscataway campus and transmitting streaming video of Clementi’s sexual encounter with another man. A few days later, Clementi committed suicide by jumping off the George Washington Bridge. Wei has already reached a plea deal with prosecutors in exchange for testifying against Ravi. Ravi, 19, of Plainsboro, faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted on the charges, which include bias intimidation for allegedly targeting Clementi because he was gay.
EQCA Town Hall: Long Beach. Equality California will host a “Back to the Ballot?” Town hall meeting in Long Beach to discuss whether we should wait for the courts to restore the freedom to marry — a decision which could have a nationwide impact — or whether Californians should try to overturn Prop. 8 through a ballot measure in 2012. The town hall will take place this evening at the Gay & Lesbian Community Center of Greater Long Beach, 2017 E. Fourth Street from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
Transgender Legal Defense Fundraiser: New York, NY. The Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund’s 6th Anniversary Benefit will be held tonight, beginning at 6:30 at the Chelsea Art Museum on West 22nd Street. All proceeds from the Anniversary Benefit go to Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund, which works around the country for equal rights. Individual tickets are $150, and of course, there are higher levels of support, too. For more information and to buy tickets,click here.
Harvey Milk Day Observance: Oshkosh, WI.
TODAY IN HISTORY:
Harvard’s Secret Court: 1920. On May 13, 1920, Cyril Wilcox, a Harvard undergraduate, committed suicide after telling his older brother, George, that he had been having an affair with another man. Shortly after Cyril’s death, George intercepted two letters from a Harvard student and a recent graduate. George took these letters to Harvard’s Acting Dean, Chester N Greenough, and shared with him what he knew. After consulting with Harvard President Abbot Lowell, Greenough formed a special five-man tribunal on this date in history which became knownas the “Secret Court.”
The court launched a wide-ranging witch hunt, with Greenough summoning each witness one-by-one with a brief note. The Court’s inquiry was exhaustive, posing questions about masturbation practices, sex with women or men, cross-dressing, overnight guests, parties, and reading habits. The scope of the inquiry soon expanded to area businesses, cafés and bars. Eight students were expelled, ordered to leave Cambridge and reported to their families. They were also told that Harvard would disclose the reasons for their expulsion if employers or other schools sought references. Four others unconnected to Harvard were also deemed “guilty.” The school couldn’t punish them directly, but they did pressure one café to fire a waiter.
In 2002, a researcher from Harvard’s daily newspaper, The Crimson, came across a box of files labeled “Secret Court” in the University’s archives. After pressure from newspaper staff, the University finally released five hundred documents related to the Court’s work, and The Crimson published its findings in November of that year. Harvard’s president Lawrence H. Summers responded to the revelations, expressing deep regret for the anguish the students and families experienced. He called the reports “extremely disturbing” and the court’s actions “abhorrent.” Conservative commentator Pat Buchanan responded to Summers’s statement by saying that “Harvard embraces bathhouse values”:
Harvard’s code is now based on Summers’ values, which hold that the old moral code of Christianity, which teaches that sexual relations between men are unnatural and immoral, is “abhorrent and an affront to the values of our university.” Harvard has not only turned its back on its Christian past, it has just renounced its Christian roots as poisoned and perverted. If Harvard is educating America’s leaders, this country is not Slouching Toward Gomorrah, we are sprinting there.
[More information can be found in William Wright’s Harvard’s Secret Court: The Savage 1920 Purge of Campus Homosexuals]
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