Radcliffe yesterday declared her own demise as an autonomous institution and will propose merger with Harvard to the Corporation before its March 3 meeting.
At a surprise meeting yesterday afternoon of Radcliffe's governing board, the College Council decided to "initiate discussion with the President and Fellows of Harvard College [Corporation] with a view to merging the two institutions."
The Council's vote followed a special meeting of the Radcliffe trustees who requested the Council to initiate such discussion with Harvard. The Council was not scheduled to meet until March 3 but held an unexpected session immediately after the trustees' meeting. Radcliffe trustees have only advisory power.
The Radcliffe College Council--which sets official administrative policy--is an eleven-member body including Mary I. Bunting, president of Radcliffe, Kathleen O. Elliott, vice-president and dean of the College, and certain trustees, all of whom were already present for the trustees' meeting.
Now the decision of whether or not to discuss merging the two schools rests with the Harvard Corporation, Mrs. Bunting said yesterday. She declined to predict the Corporation's decision, but said that President Pusey had attended yesterday's meeting of the trustees and had seemed favorable toward the proposal.
Mrs. Bunting said that on Monday she would send a letter to the Corporation proposing the merger.
At the meeting Pusey pointed out the importance of Harvard's Faculty having full responsibility for the total education of Radcliffe students, Mrs. Bunting said. The Faculty presently has responsibility only for Radcliffe's academic instruction, not for the girls' social life or discipline.
"We of course don't know yet whether the Harvard Faculty is willing to assume this responsibility," Mrs. Bunting added. But in a letter sent to all Radcliffe alumnae last week, Ruth G. Wright, president of the Alumnae Association, said, "We have reason to believe that Harvard is ready to assume full responsibility for the education of women."
"Merger does not necessarily mean coed dormitories," Mrs. Bunting emphasized, "But we all know that President Pusey has said there will be no coeducation without merger." The Harvard Faculty could assume the new responsibility for the girls even if they remain in the old Radcliffe dormitories.
But Mrs. Bunting said that the 95 per cent Radcliffe support for coed dorms revealed in the RUS poll earlier this year would be "seriously considered."
Yesterday she declined to reveal the vote of the nearly six-hour trustee meeting but said that "the great majority voted for the plan." Mrs. Bunting emphasized that "it will take some time to bring about an actual merger."
In a poll conducted at Radcliffe this past week by the RUS-HRPC Joint Subcommittee on Coed Living, the Cliffies overwhelmingly favored becoming part of Harvard. According to Judith T. Seligson '72, one of the six students invited to speak at yesterday's meeting, only 20 of the 400 students polled opposed incorporation.
Miss Seligson and four other students--Mary K. Tolbert '69, secretary of the HRPC; Ellen Messer '69, president of RUS; and Rachel Z. Ritvo '72 and Sandra C. Walker '70, elected student delegates to the Council--spoke on coeducation at Council meetings yesterday and on February 2.
A sixth student, Carol J. Greenhouse '71, spoke against the merger.
A fact sheet distributed by RUS lists six areas in which a merger might imply change:
*Administration: Radcliffe policy is currently decided by the Radcliffe College Council; Harvard policy, by the Corporation.
*Discipline and social rules: Radcliffe's social rules are determined by RUS; Harvard's by the Committee on Houses and other Administrative Boards. Discipline at Radcliffe is determined by the Judicial Board, at Harvard by the Ad Board, subject to Faculty consent.
*Status of freshmen: Harvard freshmen have segregated housing, social rules, and deans; Radcliffe freshmen are integrated with upperclassmen.
*Admissions office: Harvard has more scholarship funds per student. The admissions offices for men and women may or may not remain separate, but places for Harvard freshmen will most probably not be reduced.
*Interhouse: The main obstacle to increasing interhouse is the current separation of finances of Harvard and Radcliffe food services.
*Services: The offices of career plans, the athletic facilities, and the libraries are currently administered separately.