HEW Buys Harvard Plan To End Biases in Hiring
After one year of negotiations, Harvard has produced an "affirmative action plan" for hiring and promotion of minority group members and women which satisfies the Federal Government.
The plan affects all types of employment from Buildings and Grounds to the highest level of administration, emphasizing academic appointments. But though it satisfies the Department of Health. Education and Welfare, it has already raised the ire of University women's groups.
A University statement released yesterday said the plan would attempt to develop new machinery for the recruiting, training and retention of minority and female personnel "at every level of responsibility with special attention to teaching positions." It requires that the University file with HEW quarterly progress reports for "more effective monitoring of Harvard's efforts."
The Harvard report admits that the lack of minority representation among administrative officials and managers and under-representation of minorities and women on the teaching staff are "problem areas".
The Harvard Graduate Women's organization issued its own statement last night saying it "deplores the manner in which Harvard has handled its negotiations with HEW." It called the plan "unsatisfactory."
Specifically, the GWO objected to the fact that the release mentions minorities but not women as being underrepresented among administrators; that HEW accepted the plan while they are still only discussing with Harvard wage and salary differentials based on sex, with no affirmative action yet promised; and that the plan ignored graduate and professional school admissions policy which they said, should be included under the apprenticeship provisions of Executive Order 11246 (as amended), under which the HEW investigation has been conducted.
GWO Spokesman Margaret Graham also accused Edward Wright Jr. assistant to the President for Minority Affairs, of breaking HEW regulations requiring that those affected "understand" any compliance plan. Wright declined to enlarge upon the official release either to GWO representatives who swarmed his office yesterday morning or to the CRIMSON. HEW spokesmen referred callers to Wright.
Graham also said the GWO was preparing a suggested affirmative action plan, in response to a letter from President Pusey requesting cooperation with HEW, when they learned Harvard's plan had already been approved. Graham said Pusey's letter, though dated December 21, 1970, was not mailed until February 3. "They didn't want our help." Graham said, "They just wanted the letter in their file."
On the subject of discrimination against women the Harvard plan is considerably more vague than the one HEW imposed on the University of Michigan late last year.
While the Harvard plan merely says that wage differentials are under discussion, the UM plan demands total equity of pay in all positions: elimination of positions created especially for women: retroactive back pay for women who have been discriminated against: increased female admissions to graduate schools; and minimum quotas for women in various positions based on relative numbers of available candidates.
Several women's group members have accused Dean Dunlop, who has extensive connections in Washington, of intervening with HEW to get an early compliance settlement for Harvard Dunlop last night categorically denied this charge. "I have talked to no one in HEW on this Issue." he said, "I have dealt with no one but Charlie Whitlock and Ed Wright." Charles P. Whitlock is associate dean of Harvard College.
Caroline W. Bynum. assistant professor of History and co-chairman of the Faculty Committee on the Status of Women, said last night she was disappointed with the release describing the Harvard plan. "Not only is it weaker than the one at Michigan." she said, "but it leaves our committee as the only demonstration of affirmative action on women."
The most recent plan is the second complete affirmative action programHarvard has submitted for HEW approval. The first was sent to HEW-and presumably not approved-last November. There have also been frequent communications between Cambridge and Washington, and several Harvard visits by HEW inspectors, since Puscy first received a letter in February 1970 informing him that Harvard's hiring practices were under investigation.
Executive Order 11246 of 1963 requires any University receiving Federal funds to prove it provides equal employment opportunity to minority groups or face loss of funds. For Harvard, this would be more than $60 million. The order was amended in 1968 to include women.
Until the fall of 1969 the order was enforced-laxly-at Harvard by the agency which provided the University the most money, the Atomic Energy Commission. At that time, all University enforcement was transferred to the contrast compliance division of HEW and tighter enforcement was begun.
When Yale, Princeton and M.I.T. received warnings from HEW that Fall, Harvard issued a statement assuring its "continuing and expanding positive programs" to hire minority workers, and appointed overseer Clifford Alexander '55 to create such programs.
But Harvard was nonetheless in the first wave of universities told they were under investigation in February. When three HEW compliance investigators arrived in March, they made no mention of the issue of women. "Our concern is with affirmative action to employ Negroes where they have formerly worked," team leader J?? W?ley said at that time.
Later in the Spring, however, the Women's Equity Action League sent HEW a letter charging 200 American universities, including Harvard, with discrimination against women in hi?ng. Thereafter the hiring of women was a major issue in the Harvard investigation.
When the HEW investigators first appeared in March, administrative vice-president L. Gard Wiggins said he was confident Harvard's hiring program would win HEW approval. Why then has that approval taken a year in coming?
Wright described the year-long give-and-take between Harvard HEW as not so much a process of negotiation as one of revelation. "When you take a systematic look at a place, certain issues are obvious at first. Others necessitate digging deeper."
Though University statements in the past year have attempted to imply that Harvard's "affirmative action plan" is only a matter of compiling existing programs from different Harvard departments. Daniel L. Steiner '54, General Counsel to the University, conceded yesterday that many of the changes that are now in the offing would probably not have come up were it not for the government's pressure.
The University will now be required to file quarterly reports with HEW on the number of minority group members and women on all levels of employment, to insure that it is living up to its agreement. If at any time HEW representatives feel Harvard is not following the plan, they can freeze government funds to the University.