Michigan governors Harvard appointment draws ire


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Bottled water was distributed to help residents without clean water in Flint, Michigan during the water crisis

Harvard University’s decision to appoint the man who was the governor of Michigan during the Flint water crisis has provoked a social media backlash.

Twitter users described the prestigious institution’s decision to grant Rick Snyder the senior research fellow position at Harvard’s John F Kennedy School of Government as “disgusting” and “insensitive”.

Governor Snyder was heavily criticised for his handling of the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, which left nearly 100,000 residents without clean drinking water when the city’s water supply was switched to save money in 2014.

The water from Flint river stripped lead from the pipes and contaminated the supply.

A number of people died or became sick after contracting illnesses including Legionnaires’ disease.

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Media captionFlint resident Melissa Mays: ‘Our hair fell out’

“Snyder is responsible for the poisoning of thousands of people in Flint, Michigan” posted one Twitter user.

Another comment read, “Kids, you too can grow up, poison an entire city, and then take a fellowship at one of the most prestigious institutions in the country.”

Some used the hashtag #NoSnyderFellowship

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The former governor will begin his new role at Harvard’s Taubman Center, which welcomes research fellows every year to study, teach, and write on subjects related to state and local government.

In a statement to the University, Governor Snyder said: “I look forward to sharing my experiences in helping take Michigan to national leadership in job creation, improved government performance, and civility.”

Describing the appointment, Jeffrey Liebman, the director of the Taubman Center said: “Governor Snyder brings his significant expertise in management, public policy, and promoting civility to Harvard Kennedy School.”

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But an email campaign against the appointment has been launched by some social media users calling for Mr Liebman to rescind the fellowship.

“Harvard has decided to take on Rick Snyder as a research fellow. Didn’t realise that poisoning millions in Flint was a resume line. If you want to email Harvard, I wrote one that you can use,” posted one Twitter user.

Another social media user has since posted a response from Mr Liebman defending the appointment by saying Mr Snyder would “face hard questions about his actions”.

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Mr Snyder was accused of ignoring the Flint water crisis for too long

It wouldn’t be the first time Snyder has faced tough questions.

In 2016 he testified before Congress over his handling of the crisis. He blamed an administrative failure and also pointed the finger at the US Environmental Protection Agency for not addressing the crisis quickly enough.

He faced calls to resign and rejected accusations he was solely responsible.

Last month prosecutors dropped all criminal charges against the eight remaining officials who were accused of involvement in the water crisis.

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