A Milder View
It is certainly very exciting to discuss the HCUA's rejection of the constitution of the African and Afro-American Association in the context of the American Negro Problem. But with all due apologies to local moralizers, rhetoricians and sociologists, such discussion is hardly to the point.
The issue is really much more simple. Any undergraduate group which wants to make use of the Harvard name must comply with the "Regulations for Undergraduate Organizations in Harvard College," a little green pamphlet given to each student at registration, of which paragraph 1a under the section on Recognition of Organizations specifies that the group "must submit to the Dean's Office a constitution and by-laws." In this constitution the organization may also be reasonably expected not to flout the general rules under which the College administration must operate, among which are those Fair Educational Practice provisions of the Massachusetts Fair Employment Practice Act which forbid the College to discriminate among its students on the basis of race.
A mature consideration of these elementary requirements would certainly have convinced the founders of the African and Afro-American Association that a membership clause which excludes whites on the basis of race would have to be rejected by the HCUA and the Deans. Yet they sent Mr. Armah before the HCUA to proclaim that the phrase "Africans and Afro-Americans" means no whites allowed. If the membership clause is as discriminatory as Mr. Armah insists Harvard as a Massachusetts college, ought not to approve it. And the founders of the African and Afro-American Association should have known better to expect otherwise: no other Harvard organization admits to so extreme an interpretation of its membership clause.
Instead of insisting so stubbornly on their special privilege to maintain a technically unacceptable clause, the group's leaders would be well advised to calm themselves and decide on membership provisions which the College can legitimately approve. If their revolutionary zeal makes such a temperate course unacceptable, they have every right to become one of the numerous student groups which manage to exist without using the Harvard name.
(The two articles above represent minority views of the Editorial Board.)