Lady Gaga and her mother Cynthia Germanotta will be launching their much-talked-about nonprofit group, the Born This Way Foundation, this afternoon at Harvard University. Also in attendance will be Oprah, Deepak Chopra, and… students protesting the University‘s decision not to confer posthumous degrees to nine gay students who were expelled in 1920!
If the storied Ivy League university seems an odd choice, it makes more sense when you learn that the Foundation is pairing up with a Harvard academic center. In a profile of Cynthia on the Daily Beast, Abigail Pesta writes:
Germanotta is quick to note that the focus of her new foundation is on “kindness, not meanness,” saying that “bullying is almost overused in the media.” The group plans to partner with three other groups—Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society, the MacArthur Foundation, and the California Endowment to Empower Youth—to help educate kids, Germanotta says, by connecting Gaga’s fan base with the programs the groups have started.
Making an appeal to Our Lady of the Gaga will be student protestors that want the university to confer honorary degrees to nine gay students who were witch-hunted and expelled in 1920 by Harvard president Abbott Lawrence Lowell. Harvard’s response, according to MSNBC:
Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences does not award posthumous degrees except in the rare case of a student who completes all academic requirements for the degree but dies before the degree has been conferred.
In 2002 the University expressed its deep regret for the way the situation was handled as well as for the anguish experienced by the students and their families almost a century ago.
While we feel the pain of those nine excommunicated gay students, rules are rules—and Harvard treats its gays just fine now.
And, if you were wondering if Lady Gaga’s ever felt the pain of those excluded students—her mother tells the Daily Beast that she was once “purposefully not invited” by her high school classmates to a weekend party.
“On Monday, they asked her what she did over the weekend, knowing full well that she knew about the party. It comes down to meanness and cruelty,” said Mama Gaga. “Exclusion is a form of that.”