Earlier this week, Larry Summers fired a doucherocket across the bow of Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss’s pairs’ shell. “If an undergraduate is wearing a tie and jacket on Thursday afternoon at three o’clock, there are two possibilities,” he noted at a Fortune conference, referring to when the then-undergrad rower twins came to his office to complain that Mark Zuckerberg had stolen their idea for Facebook. “One is that they’re looking for a job and have an interview; the other is that they are an a**hole.” Being Good Men of Harvard, The Winklevii were not going to stand for this douchefrontery. They responded in a lengthy open letter to current Harvard president Drew Gilpin Faust, who is probably wondering what she did to deserve all of this.
The Journal has the letter, which, had it been delivered privately, would have probably been relatively tactful. It makes some good points, and honestly, someone should reprimand Larry Summers for the way he talks about students at a school he once ran. They are kids, after all, even if they are among the brightest in our country. Honestly, what adult behaves that way? But the twins delivered the letter publicly, and in doing so sank to Summers’s level in a way (never good when you are a rower, sinking). Now we know how offended they were by his behavior in that years-ago meeting — chronicled seemingly well in the movie The Social Network:
His manner was not inconsistent with his reputation and present day admissions of being tactfully challenged. It was not his failure to shake hands with the three of us upon entering his office (doing so would have required him to take his feet off his desk and stand up from his chair), nor his tenor that was most alarming, but rather his scorn for a genuine discourse on deeper ethical questions, Harvard’s Honor Code, and its applicability or lack thereof …
It is deeply disturbing that a professor of this university openly admits to making character judgments of students based on their appearance. It goes without saying that every student should feel free to bring issues forward, dress how they see fit, or express themselves without fear of prejudice or public disparagement from a fellow member of the community, much less so from a faculty member.
The fact that he wouldn’t stand up or shake their hands really seemed to get to them. Knowing Summers, though, they probably shouldn’t have been so surprised. This is a man who falls asleep while the president of the United States is talking. At least he listened to the Winklevii. He even remembered what they were wearing!