Former Michigan governor, Rick Snyder, will not be remembered for being an exemplary leader while he was in office. The two-term former governor of Michigan who many felt was responsible for the Flint water crisis was in the bottom ten on the list of the worst governors in the country, according to a poll taken by the Morning Consult in 2018. Given that information, Harvard University saw fit to appoint Snyder as its newest senior research fellow at its John F. Kennedy School of Government.
While Rick Snyder was governor, water sources in Flint, Michigan, were changed to the Flint River. This change drove at least 100,000 people to suffer from toxic lead contamination. Twelve deaths were attributed to Legionnaires’ Disease as a result of insufficient water treatment. Snyder has never been punished for his role in the water crisis, although many hold him personally responsible.
.@Harvard @Kennedy_School gives fellowship to #Michigan Gov Rick Snyder. He was the Gov for Flint water crisis. People in Flint still can’t trust the water & were expected to pay water bills for water they couldn’t drink! pls sign petition in tweet below⬇️ #NoSnyderFellowship https://t.co/HIpOAVRS7K
— Piper Perabo (@PiperPerabo) July 2, 2019
Harvard University’s decision to give the fellowship has come under fire due to Snyder’s role in the crisis. Many people are outraged, and an email campaign asking the university to rescind the fellowship was sent to Jeffrey Liebman, director of the school’s Taubman Center for State and Local Government as well as a petition on change.org was launched. That petition has garnered almost 7,000 signatures.
Harvard Kennedy School of Government had made the following people fellows: Rick Snyder, Sean Spicer and Corey Lewandowski. The bar is getting low at Ivy League Schools.
— Wajahat Ali (@WajahatAli) July 1, 2019
Flint activist Mari Copeny, known as “Little Miss Flint,” has openly protested Snyder’s fellowship saying via Twitter, “Rick Snyder needs to be in jail for poisoning Flint, not at Harvard.”
Rick Snyder needs to be in jail for poisoning Flint, not at Harvard 🤬 https://t.co/7GjGKsU0u9
— Mari Copeny (@LittleMissFlint) June 30, 2019
It is illogical that officials at Harvard University would draw a hard line against blatant racism by rescinding Kyle Kashuv’s admission over mere words but then allow Rick Snyder’s disregard for the lives of Black and poor Flint residents to be a part of the school’s legacy. Snyder is infinitely worse.
Related Story: Opinion: Harvard University’s Decision to Rescind Kyle Kashuv’s Admission is a Lesson for ‘Conservative’ White Men
Marginalized people work with racists, sexists, homophobes, and other toxic people every day. It is not to say that Kashuv should be allowed to attend Harvard. But Snyder’s racist acts were systemic. He caused irreparable damage of epic proportions to a group of underserved people in one city. He had the power to change dire circumstances for people, and Snyder refused.
Harvard @Kennedy_School offered former Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder a fellowship.
Snyder is directly responsible for the poisoning of thousands of people in Flint, Michigan.
Here's what that looked like:#NoSnyderFellowship pic.twitter.com/XddElwv6zC
— jordan (@JordanUhl) June 30, 2019
Harvard College Democrats said it best in their statement:
“By appointing Governor Snyder as a fellow, Harvard Kennedy School is telling its students and community members that disregard of communities of color is acceptable, that harm caused to communities of color is inconsequential, and that a legacy of racism is synonymous with a legacy of service.”