Harvard University officials are apologizing after controversial placemats in college dining halls made national headlines.
The "Holiday Placemat for Social Justice," distributed by the university's Office for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion and the Freshman Dean's Office depicted various scenarios involving how to respond to other people's opinions on controversial issues. The four primary sections of the placemats included: Yale/Student Activism; Islamophobia/Refugees; House Master Title; and, Black Murders in the Street.
Under the "House Master Title" category, for instance, students were encouraged to respond to questions about why the admittedly dated term was scrapped on campus with, "Implying mastery of people feels both inappropriate and ill-founded. There are other words we could use such as 'Head of House.'"
Right on cue, conservative organizations and journalists pounced on the placemats, lampooning them nationwide. Even the Harvard Republican Club generated an alternative version called the "Holiday Placemat for Common Sense." Conservative site Breitbart panned the social justice placemats as riddled with "campus crazy talking points."
After the backlash, Harvard officials swiftly apologized, reportedly saying that "the placemat distributed in some of your dining halls this week failed to account for the many viewpoints that exist on our campus on some of the most complex issues we confront as a community and society today."
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The Washington Free Beacon reports that Stephen Lassoed, dean of student life, and Thomas Dingman, dean of freshmen, wrote the message.
"Our goal was to provide a framework for you to engage in conversations with peers and family members as you return home for the winter break," the officials wrote, "however, it was not effectively presented and it ultimately caused confusion in our community."
Harvard student Aaron I. Henricks was unimpressed with the administration's apology.
Speaking to the Harvard Crimson, Henricks remarked, "I don’t think that’s the place of any Harvard employee to tell students the right way to think about the Syrian refugee crisis. That’s ridiculous to me."