AS THE UNIVERSITY slowly inches toward the socially responsible management of its investment portfolio, responsibilities tied to other parts of Harvard's endowment must not be obscured. One of Harvard's most pressing obligations in this regard involves the Black Rock Forest.
Harvard has so far remained formally neutral in the legal battle between a growing conservation movement and Consolidated Edison, although University property will be taken by Con Ed to build a pump-storage facility if the residents of the area lose their fight to keep the company out. Harvard's only contribution to this conservation battle has been President Pusey's 1970 letter to The New York Times aligning the University with the Scenic Hudson Preservation Committee.
Arguments about the University's proper role in the controversy have centered on Harvard's responsibilities to its benefactors rather than the social obligations of the University as a property holder. There has been a fundamental lack of knowledge about the nature of Harvard's property, unparalleled in previous University disputes over major corporations. It is time to remedy this lack of knowledge and for Harvard to take decisive action.
But pending a through examination by the University of the nature of Black Rock Forest, of its present usefulness as a research area, its natural grandeur in close proximity to the New York metropolis and its importance as a part in the Hudson valley conservation system, the University should reaffirm its past statements supporting Scenic Hudson. And Harvard should make a more substantial contribution to the fight to restrain Con Ed than another letter to The New York Times.