News your connection to The Boston Globe

Summers wins support in student vote

Wanting their voices to be heard alongside those of the faculty, graduate students at Harvard held their own vote of no confidence in Lawrence H. Summers this week -- but this time, the university president won support.

Asked to decide whether the graduate student body ''lacks confidence in the leadership" of Summers, the plurality of balloters in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences voted to deny the motion.

Last week, the Faculty of Arts and Sciences passed a no-confidence motion and a second, milder motion of censure. All the votes are nonbinding.

While the graduate students differed on the first resolution, they approved by a huge margin the second motion passed by the faculty last week, criticizing Summers for his remarks in January on women in science and his ''managerial approach," but praising his ''stated intent to address these issues."

''I think students are trying to say to their faculty, their mentors, and the people they work with, 'Please listen to us; we have a different voice,' " said Zoe Trodd, president of the Graduate Student Council, which organized the vote. '' 'As you move forward and think about what demands to make of the [governing] corporation, you need to take this into account.' "

Last week, professors in Harvard's Faculty of Arts and Sciences, which includes both the undergraduate college and the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, voted. Harvard has nine other schools, but the Faculty of Arts and Sciences is considered the heart of the university.

The graduate student vote of no confidence failed by a margin about as slim as last week's vote by the faculty passed, with 699 opposed, 608 in favor, 90 abstaining, and 146 saying they needed more information.

The vote on the second motion passed by 945 in favor to 362 against, with 149 abstaining and 87 saying they needed more information.

The vote was conducted Monday and yesterday over the Internet. The voting was anonymous. Of an eligible population of about 3,500 graduate Arts and Sciences students, 1,543 voted, organizers said.

Last night, a Harvard spokesman said officials had not yet heard the results and had no immediate reaction.

Trodd said graduate students have followed the events of the last two months closely, and that many are concerned about Summers's comments on women in science. They also are worried that the controversy will drive favorite professors to leave Harvard.

But she said some also are concerned about the free speech implications of censuring the president for his remarks.

She said the Graduate Student Council may do a more in-depth survey of student opinions, and plans to ask to be included in meetings with the corporation.

Bombardieri can be reached at

Today (free)
Yesterday (free)
Past 30 days
Last 12 months
 Advanced search / Historic Archives