Jason Richwine, author of the thesis.

Jason Richwine, author of the thesis.

Harvard University students are taking the John F. Kennedy School of Government to task for approving a troubling 2009 doctoral thesis.

The “IQ and Immigration Policy” thesis was authored by Jason Richwine – a former doctoral candidate at the Kennedy School – and uses a comparison of IQ scores to argue Hispanics have an inherently inferior intelligence. Richwine also claims the United States should use IQ scores to determine citizenship.

“Today’s immigrants are not as intelligent on average as white natives,’’ Richwine wrote. “The IQ difference between the two groups is large enough to have substantial negative effects on the economy and on American society.”

Richwine landed a post-doctoral gig with the Heritage Foundation, where he used data from that thesis to argue against immigration reform. This grabbed the attention of the Washington Post, leading to a firestorm of controversy.

Harvard students are upset this thesis was approved and Richwine was granted a degree. More than 1,200 students signed a petition demanding an investigation and delivered it to president Drew Faust and the dean of the Kennedy School of Government, David Ellwood.

The petition reads:

“Academic freedom and a reasoned debate are essential to our academic community. However, the Harvard Kennedy School cannot ethically stand behind academic work advocating a national policy of exclusion and advancing an agenda of discrimination.”

Students also claim Harvard’s decision to approve Richwine’s thesis “debases their degrees.” More than 24 students signed a letter to the Kennedy School of Government that read in part:

“We are deeply concerned with the academic integrity and the reputation of Harvard Kennedy School and the University as a whole. It has been recently made public by the Washington Post and the New York Times that in 2009 the Kennedy School accepted a dissertation written by Jason Richwine which claims that “Immigrants living in the US today do not have the same level of cognitive ability as natives” (Richwine Dissertation, 26). Richwine goes on to state that “the prediction that new Hispanic immigrants will have low-IQ children and grandchildren is difficult to argue against” (Richwine Dissertation, 66) and argues for an immigration policy based on IQ. Central to his claim is the idea that certain groups are genetically predisposed to be more intelligent than others. In his troubling worldview Asians are generally at the top, with whites in the middle, Hispanics follow, and African Americans at the bottom (Richwine Dissetation, 74). To justify his assertions he cites largely discredited sources such as J. Philippe Rushton whose work enshrines the idea that there are geneticallyrooted differences in cognitive ability between racial groups.

We condemn in unequivocal terms these racist claims as unfit for Harvard Kennedy School and Harvard University as a whole. Granting permission for such a dissertation to be published debases all of our degrees and hurts the University’s reputation.”

Ellwood has responded to the students’ concerns. He writes in a statement:

“I most certainly understand that this issue, as reported, troubles many people.  In response I offer three thoughts.  First, the views and conclusions of any graduate of this school are theirs alone, and do not represent the views of Harvard or the Kennedy School.  Second, all Ph.D. dissertations are reviewed by a committee of scholars.  In this case, the committee consisted of three highly respected and discerning faculty members who come from diverse intellectual traditions.   Finally and most importantly, it is vital that an active and open debate of ideas occur in Universities and beyond them.  Scholars and others who disagree with particular ideas or methods or who are unhappy with conclusions can and must openly engage in reasoned discussion and criticism, after looking fully and carefully at the work.  It is through ongoing vigorous give and take that good ideas will ultimately emerge and weaker ones can be displaced.”

Despite the controversy and an abrupt subsequent resignation from the Heritage Foundation, Richwine stands by his thesis.

“I stand behind everything in the thesis,’’ he said. “It’s a very good, very solid work of scholarship. I think if people actually read it, they will see that it is firmly grounded in the mainstream, psychological research.”

“One of the many mischaracterizations of my dissertation is that I support an ethnicity-based immigration policy,” he said. “I do not. I endorse treating everyone as individuals. That’s clear throughout the text.”

He also thinks students are misguided for attempting to censor his scholarship.

“I wonder what thoughts they would seek to ban in the future,” he said. “This is a really worrisome idea here, that the students want to dictate what scholarship will be allowed at Harvard University.”

Chime in Clutchettes. Should Richwine’s thesis have been approved?

  • BeanBean

    This man is just one step from measuring facial features to determine intelligence. Whites did that too! Smaller nose = more intelligence, bigger nose= stupid. Straight hair = smart, kinky hair= stupid. They just don’t change no matter the year smh.

  • Shay

    Wow!!! Thats all i can really say. As a college student i have had the chance to sit on some dissertation proposals and i cant believe an ivy league group of scholars even approved him to write about this tripe. let alone let him graduate with it. SMFH

  • aziza123

    They? Pot. Kettle. Black.

  • omfg

    i went to an elite northeast liberal arts college. i can believe they would let b.s. fly.

    you hold these people in too high esteem.

    you can be a straight racist at any level of society.

    nothing shocks me when it comes to racism.

  • dippedingodiva

    White people swear they are the smartest human beings in the world, only to show that they are the most arrogant narrow-minded group of people. SMH sometimes I wish they were enslaved and subjected to what AA and Hispanics are subjected to every damn day.

  • BeanBean

    I’m still trying to figure out when did Hispanic become a race??? You have Black Latinos and White Latinos, so where did this guy get his research.

  • Starla

    @dippedingodiva..That’s what they have sold all these years and fooled everybody, maybe the only people they never fooled were some Asians, but every other dark skinned people they made sure they ingrained in them their “superiority”. Rwandans believed them so much they killed millions of their own because white Belgians went there and taught them division. They have entire genres of movies dedicated to their “save-the world” power, they created superheros, they created destruction and destitution in distant lands so they could go back in and be the saviour.

    They are the smartest people when it comes to deception and they make sure that every generation they keep reminding themselves and the world of their “superiority”. They have been using the power of the mind, subliminal messages, studies and the media to keep reminding people of their superiority for eons. Studies like these are simply a part of the mental indoctrination that has been going on since whites left the mountains of Europe to roam the world.

  • jay cee

    Jason Richwine must be very insecure in his own skin as well as threatened somehow.

  • http://gravatar.com/jamesfrmphilly jamesfrmphilly

    pencil dick syndrome……

  • Marco

    Sickening; I would expect much better from a JFK grad. The notion that IQ should have as much impact in immigration policy as the thesis suggests is outdated and short-sighted to say the least. While, in general, the levels of education of the incoming Hispanic immigrants trying to be discredit are below par, ignoring the context for said migration leaves us with the picture Richwine was trying to paint. There is a clear overstatement of IQ heritability, and the insulting suggestion that a large subset of the American population is set for failure is somewhat reminiscent of past xenophobic tantrums.

  • The Hat of the Three-Toed Man-Baby

    Highly unlikely you ever sat in on a dissertation proposal, since they aren’t advertised or generally open to the public. Lies make the baby Jesus cry/

  • Tsaun

    Wow! Very well said, and very true indeed. Only people with a certain level of intelligence would get your comment. Minorities particularly blacks have been and continue to be sabotaged in the worse way. One can only hope that one day more will began to understand how blacks and hispanics are being oppressed probably even more now than in the 60′s. We seem to be going backwards for sure.

  • lizvocal

    What is appalling is not his conclusions, but his premises. “Hispanic” is not a race or even a particularly coherent ethnic identity. It is a catch-all term for a large group of people from different nations, backgrounds and the mixing of many, many racial groups. There is no genetic argument or even cultural argument to be made about all Hispanics. There is no scientific grounding for the concepts. That this enormous hole in his theories was allowed to pass muster with Harvard is simply breathtaking.

    Liz the PhD candidate.

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