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Harvard students hope Lady Gaga event can help right anti-gay wrongs

Feb 28, 2012

Lady Gaga, Deepak Chopra and Oprah will appear at Harvard University tomorrow to help launch the singer’s anti-bullying organization, the Born This Way Foundation.

Hoping to capitalize on the masses of media types that will follow them, some of the storied school’s students and faculty are petitioning Harvard to grant posthumous degrees to students kicked out during anti-gay witch hunts.

It was revealed in 2002 that in the 1920s, Harvard held “secret courts” to try and subsequently expel students suspected of being gay, a not-uncommon practice in an era when gays were blatantly abhorred and misconstrued. Though the school apologized for the secret courts, a group of activists there say Harvard officials should right their predecessors’ wrongs by giving the symbolic degrees.

“Given the Born This Way Foundation’s commitment to this mission and their choice to launch their foundation at Harvard, we felt like this was an opportunity to ask for their support and would hope they would join us in asking Harvard to do the right thing here and help seek justice for these students,” visiting sociology professor Kaia Stern told the AP.

Though the initiative may sound silly to some, the symbolic retroactive granting of degrees would show that Harvard University is committed to not only owning its past mistakes, but to keeping the school on the up-and-up when it comes to civil rights.

So, Harvard, with the world’s eyes on you, will you do the right thing and grant the posthumous degrees, or will you try to ignore past mistakes?

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