Harvard’s 375th anniversary and the 92nd anniversary of the Harvard Secret Court

Next Thursday, May 24, 2012, Harvard will celebrate its 375th anniversary — and the 92nd anniversary of the Harvard Secret Court.

To our knowledge, there are no plans to honor the victims of the Secret Court with posthumous honorary degrees this year.  On Feb. 29, a Harvard spokesman said, “Harvard doesn’t award posthumous degrees except in rare cases when a student dies after completing the required coursework and before graduation”–but we have found evidence to the contrary.  In addition to persecuting students, the architects of the Secret Court also set a precedent for giving posthumous degrees in 1920.  We now have a blueprint on how to seek just for these students.

As you can see from the 1920s Harvard Crimson stories below, Harvard has granted posthumous degrees to students who have not completed their course work. We’d like to see Harvard use the same process (seek approval from the Harvard Corporation, Board of Overseers, have the Faculty vote on it, then grant degrees) that the Secret Court deans used to give posthumous degrees in 1920-22 to students who were killed in WWI.

What is clear is that Harvard honors its students, even when there isn’t a precedent, but only when it’s a priority.  We can’t help but think that they have not taken the appropriate steps to honor these students, because they still see them as individuals who are not worthy.  We hope that Harvard seeks to honor these students someday because we believe that they belong on the roster of graduates at Harvard too.


Former University Students, Killed in War, Honored–All Men on Roll of Honor Now Among Graduates–Forty-Nine Given A.B.


Acting Dean C. N. Greenough ’98 [he helped to found the Harvard Secret Court] announced last evening that a practical means of working out this plan would not be evolved until it had been approved by the Corporation, when decisive action will be taken.

Your support makes all the difference.  Please help us reach 25,000 signatures by commencement day.  Please share this petition with your friends, colleagues and loved ones.

Thank you.

-Their Day in the Yard