Outraged Harvard students have delivered a petition with over 1,200 signatures to the university's president demanding an investigation into how a doctoral thesis, arguing that Latino immigrants had lower IQ's than non-Latino whites, came to be approved in the first place.
The petition also calls on banning future racial superiority research at Harvard University.
The thesis, "IQ and Immigration Policy," was written in 2009 by former Heritage Foundation policy analyst Jason Richwine, who last week resigned to his post amid disclosures of the controversial dissertation.
In the paper he also recommends the U.S. adopt an immigration policy based on IQ, a score derived from a standardized test designed to assess intelligence.
Richwine went on to say only immigrants with the highest IQs should be let in and that Hispanics, their children and grandchildren were destined to lesser intellect.
Richwine's dissertation said, “Today’s immigrants are not as intelligent on average as white natives. The IQ difference between the two groups is large enough to have substantial negative effects on the economy and on American society."
"The upside is that calling attention to this problem may help focus policy on attracting a different kind of immigrant - the poor with great potential," he wrote.
Richwine is unapologetic for his comments, and that has only served to fuel the Harvard student body, which delivered a petition last week to president Drew Faust and David Ellwood, the dean of the John F. Kennedy School of Government.
“One of the many mischaracterizations of my dissertation is that I support an ethnicity-based immigration policy,” he said to the Boston Globe on Friday. “I do not. I endorse treating everyone as individuals. That’s clear throughout the text.”
The new petition was coupled with a letter condemning Richwine's research as "racist claims" that are "unfit for Harvard Kennedy School and Harvard University as a whole."
The letter was signed by over 23 student groups including the HKS Latino Caucas, Harvard Journal of Hispanic Policy, HKS Latin American Caucus, the Black Student Union at the Harvard Kennedy School and the Women's Policy journal.
"We believe in academic freedom as it is crucial to the functioning of a university," the letter said. "However, we also believe that putting forth claims of racial superiority based on inherent genetic advantage to be on par with those who have used pseudo-science throughout history to justify state-based hate."
Richwine said the move by the Harvard student body could set a dangerous precedent.
“This is a really worrisome idea here, that the students want to dictate what scholarship will be allowed at Harvard University,” an unemployed Richwine told The Boston Globe on Friday.
Ellwood, the Kennedy School dean, urged scholars and critics to review Richwine's work carefully before engaging in a reasoned discussion about it.
"All PhD dissertations are reviewed by a committee of scholars," Ellwood said in a statement. “In this case, the committee consisted of three highly respected and discerning faculty members who come from diverse intellectual traditions.”
Richwine's work was backed by George Borjas, the chairman of the Kennedy School's Standing Committee on Public Policy, which accepted Richwine's research and called it "sound" in an interview with The Citizen.
Last week was supposed to be a positive one for Richwine, at least from his view and that of the Heritage Foundation, which had just released a report by the analyst and Robert Rector, a senior research fellow at the organization, that said the price tag of comprehensive immigration reform would be roughly $6.3 trillion.
The think tank released the report as hearings were beginning in the Senate on a bipartisan bill and some 300 amendments regarding an overhaul of the country’s immigration system.
One of the most objectionable parts of the bill for conservatives calls for allowing millions of undocumented immigrants to be able to obtain legal status, first on a provisional basis, and eventually permanently.
"The Harvard paper is not a work product of the Heritage Foundation," according to a statement on the foundation’s blog. “Its findings do not reflect the positions of the Heritage Foundation or the conclusions of our study on the cost of amnesty to U.S. taxpayers, as race and ethnicity are not part of Heritage immigration policy recommendations.”