Harvard University is re-writing American history and distancing itself from its religious roots. “Puritans” have been been scrubbed in favor of the cosmos at the Ivy League school.
The university purged the word from its alma mater, “Fair Harvard,” taking out the reference to the English Protestants who not only founded the nation’s oldest institution of higher education but were central is founding the first colonies.
The song’s lyrics were revised in 1998 to make it gender inclusive, and this week the university changed the last line, which previously said, “Be the herald of light, and the bearer of love, till the stock of the Puritans die.”
The Task Force on Inclusion and Belonging made the decision to take out “Puritans” from the “living symbol” opting for the line: “Till the stars in the firmament die.”
“The metaphor…fails in its own aspiration to project a valuable Puritan commitment to education into the future,” school officials wrote in a statement. “The line reduces human experience to biology with the word ‘stock,’ and ties the commitment to education to ethnic lineage and to the rise and fall of racial groupings.”
Harvard sought suggestions from students, staff and alumni and a panel made up of professors and alumni chose the winner out of a pool of 168 suggested replacements. The new phrase was submitted by a 1984 graduate, the university said.
Its not known if other symbols of the Puritan heritage will be removed. The bronze statue of John Harvard is the most popular selfie background on campus. Students and their parents have made the statue’s foot shiny after generations of rubbing it for good luck.
The statue aside, officials said the new phrase affirms their motto, “Veritas,” which means “verity” or “truth.”
Two phrases that almost made the cut were “Till the shadows of ignorance die” and “Till the end of the ages draws nigh.”
The task force believes the new lyrics “convey the accessibility and value of the pursuit of truth to people from all backgrounds” and affirms “the university’s commitment to inclusive excellence.”
The scrubbing of the Puritans from Harvard’s history is not new. Across the country, universities are removing any reference to their institutions having been founded by people of faith.