To the Editors of the CRIMSON:
The CRIMSON's editorial, "Mr. Burke and the H.S.A.," is an ignorant, self-serving, and venomous attack on one of Harvard's most devoted and effective administrative officers. Unhappily for us all, the editorial is a good sample of the generally irresponsible journalism to which the CRIMSON has subjected this community in recent months.
The editorial says that "the H.S.A. operates under little Faculty or administrative control" and goes on to urge "closer guidance" by a review committee "appointed by the Administrative Board." Yet, as the CRIMSON well knows, the H.S.A. is now governed more closely than any other student organization, by a Board of Directors which includes the following: G. Gardner Bradise '40, Chairman, Vice-President, Cambridge Trust Co.; Warren S. Berg '44, Arthur D. Little Co., Cambridge; Mr. Burke; Douglas B. Harding '63; Bradlee T. Howe '63; G. Oliver Koppeli '62, IL; Richard T. Seymour '64; David A. Mittell '39, Vice-President, Lawrence R. McCoy & Co., Worcester; Dean Monro; George G. Mulligan '62; Paul A. Newsome '29, President, Newsome & Co., Inc., Boston; Daniel I. Peck '52, Certified Public Accountant, Brookline; Harold Rosenwald '27, LL.B. '20, Attorney, Boston; Dean von Stade; Herbert Stewart, M.B.A. '40, Lecturer on Business Administration, Harvard Business School; Lynn M. Taussig '64; and Dean Watson.
The allegation, that H.S.A. is not closely supervised by the University is contrary to fact, or more plainly, a lie.
To justify the deeply vicious slurs that Mr. Burke is a man "many will not trust" and a man who "has succumbed... to peculiar temptations," the CRIMSON cites three specific instances of alleged "indiscretions" in the management of the corporation: first, that there was administrative confusion when he tried to protect the birthday cake business in our dormitories as a business to support needy Harvard students and not outsiders; second, that he set up an Entertainment Agency in H.S.A. to promote job opportunities for student entertainers; and, finally, that H.S.A. has been subjected to legal action.
How venomous the CRIMSON's style of character assassination can be is indicated in a brief consideration of these "indiscretions."
Obviously a number of people at Harvard are confused about the power of the College to regulate the conduct of business in our buildings, and the CRIMSON, as is its perfect right, has done its best to dramatise this confusion. But the facts are clear. The College does have the power to regulate the conduct of business in its buildings,--solicitation, as well as deliveries. Final policy decisions about these matters rests, necessarily, with the Masters and the Freshman Dean. Day-to-day decisions, and recommendations as to policy, rest with the small Committee on Solicitation, which includes representatives of the Dean's Office, the Vice-President's office, Financial Aid, Student Employment, and the Committee on Houses.
For several years now a group of students from another college have sought to cut in on the birthday cake business in the Harvard dormitories and Houses, calling themselves the "University Birthday Cake Agency." It was a part of Mr. Burke's job to try to keep this business for needy Harvard students. He may have been mistaken in seeking to preserve the business for Harvard by asking for a control on deliveries. But he was certainly not mistaken in his assumption that the College can control deliveries, as well as solicitation, if it wants to. The fact that deliveries of the outside company cakes continue, despite his request, helps to put in perspective the CRIMSON's standing allegation that Mr. Burke exercises a monopolistic and threatening power in the conduct of business at Harvard.
Mr. Burke did not win this round in the effort to hold and develop jobs for needy Harvard undergraduates, but it was his obligation to try. It is characteristic that the CRIMSON, though knowing this side of the story full well, has lost track of it in the effort to smear Mr. Burke.
As to the development of the Entertainment Bureau, the issue is simpler and clearer. The Student Employment Office, in its effort to handle scores of casual jobs daily, has never been in a position to promote and service aggressively a large potential market for student entertainers. It would take an extra staff person, hired at College expense, to do this job. The decision was taken to develop, alongside the routine Student Employment Office listings, an Agency effort to promote and service this promising source of jobs. The use of an Agency, on a percentage basis, is entirely customary in the entertainment field. The effect of having an Agency has been to expand this job market considerably, to improve wages paid, and to spread the expense among those who benefit the most rather than to the whole student body. One can argue about the merits of this decision, but it takes a determinedly hostile mind to call it an "indiscretion."
The CRIMSON brushes quickly by the matter of "legal action," but makes sure to mention it as a part of the general smear and attaches particular blame to Mr. Burke and not, as would be proper, the whole corporation. What the CRIMSON means, one has to conclude, is that there just has to be something wrong, some touch of guilt, when a case is brought to law to settle a dispute. This is Joe McCarthy stuff. In our society the rule among honest men is to wait the decision of the court.
These matters, then, are the basis for allegations of untrustworthiness and "succumbing to peculiar temptation": that a man sought, in line of duty, to protect a valuable job for needy Harvard students; that he made a business decision to try to promote more jobs for undergraduates in the entertainment field; and that a dispute involving H.S.A. has been brought to court.
Further, those vague and ill-supported charges are leveled at a man who, by devoted and intelligent service, has added hundreds upon hundreds of well-paying summer and term-time jobs to our financial aid operations for needy students, and has built our employment service until it is one of the strongest in the country.
The editorial speaks of the "execrations" heaped upon H.S.A., and the word is aptly chosen, meaning, "imprecation, curse, detestation." One asks: What is the unfailing, principal source of these "execrations" each year? By now, everyone in your audience knows the answer to that one. The great single, unfailing source is the CRIMSON, which abominates H.S.A., and for many reasons important to the CRIMSON, mainly, as it seems, because of the Harvard Student Calendar. The Calendar came into being, and continues to exist, because it serves the Harvard community in ways which are really the obligation of the CRIMSON, but which the CRIMSON has never even tried to meet.
There are, of course, many honest, straightforward ways to compete with the Calendar, but the CRIMSON turns, as by instinct, to character assassination.
I repeat, the CRIMSON is guilty of an ignorant, self-seeking, and venomous attack on a devoted officer of the College and deserves the censure of the Harvard community. J.U. Monro, Dean, Harvard College.
The CRIMSON rejects Dean Monro's assertion that competition with the "Harvard Student Calendar" motivated yesterday's editorial. The CRIMSON stands by the editorial, which was neither intended to be, nor, the CRIMSON believes, was, a "venomous attack" and a "character assassination." Rather, the editorial said, and the CRIMSON still maintains, that it is impossible for one man to be Director of Student Employment, secretary of the Committee on Solicitation, and General Manager of the Harvard Student Agencies, without facing embarrassments that hurt both his effectiveness and the organizations he directs. The CRIMSON suggests that the interests of the community of students, both as employees and as consumers, would best be served if Mr. Burke held only the job of Director of Student Employment, if the University employed another administrator to direct the HSA, and if a more active and more disinterested watchdog committee were appointed to mediate the relations of the HSA and the community--The Editors