University Offers Building To Afro-American Center
University proposals to move the Harvard-Radcliffe Afro-American Cultural Center to a new Brattle Square house and provide it with financial assistance may enable the center to remain open next year.
Derrick A. Bell Jr., professor of law and a trustee of the center, said yesterday the administration has suggested the center relocate to larger quarters at 16-18 Eliot St., and promised long-term loans for renovation and rental of the building.
It is unlikely the center will close down completely for lack of funds, Imani Kazana, director of the cultural center, said yesterday. "I'm sure they will at least maintain a building."
Kazana confirmed that Stephen S.J. Hall, vice president for Administration, has suggested Afro move from its 20 Sacramento St. headquarters into the three-story frame house in Brattle Square.
Bell said the center's board of trustees will consider the offer at its April 28 meeting. He called acceptance "probable."
The Hillel Society and the Afro center have both asked to move into a University-owned building at 74 Mt. Auburn St. which will become vacant this spring when The Sanctuary moves out.
Hall yesterday refused to say whether an Afro acceptance of the Eliot St. house would automatically allow Hillel to have the Mt. Auburn St. building.
"I can't unilaterally decide whether I can make the buildings available," Hall said. "Now that the larger philosophical issue of the center's existence has been raised, I will have to go back to President Bok, Dean Rosovsky, and Mr. Leonard to decide the issue."
Last Wednesday a group of student organizations asked the administration to absorb the cultural center in a new, University-funded Third World Cultural Center.
Harvard does not own the Eliot house, but holds an option to rent it. Hall estimated the annual rental at $20,000.
Bell said he understood Hall has assured the center the University would make available the funds necessary to finance the move and rental fees.
President Bok and Dean Rosovsky were unavailable for comment last night.
Bell said he expects the board of trustees to endorse a proposal "to call upon the University to extend additional loans, on the basis of our increased fund-raising expectations, so that the center can continue to operate at the same level of service."
Efforts to add six Faculty members to the board and publicize the center's activities will eventually enable Afro to repay the needed $30,000, he said.
"It's not fair to say the University has not been helpful, nor that they have not taken to deal with some of our problems," Bell added.