David L. Evans, senior admissions officer, said yesterday he will conduct a survey of black students and alumni from the classes of 1973 to 1978 to collect information about their experiences at Harvard.
The survey includes questions on the students' fields of concentration, extracurricular activities, and the honors and awards they earned in college. Evans said he hopes to mail the questionnaires and cover letters within a week.
He also said he plans to use the information to write a "sizeable article for a major publication," and hopes the article will "counter some of the negativisms of the past."
"Black students have been portrayed in national magazines as being totally disoriented, anti-intellectual, unwilling and incapable of doing the work," Evans said. "They never mention that the average black student here is on the Dean's List and had (SAT) scores of over 600."
"There's a tendency on the part of whites to see more blacks here than there actually are," he said, adding that the approximately 4800 academically qualified applicants rejected from Harvard each year often feel that "somebody took their place, or that they were eliminated by an unfair admissions policy."
Evans said these attitudes stem from popular beliefs that are reinforced by the media. "There's no hard data on the performance of students," he said. "They have to take their opinions on hearsay, because the kind of information they're talking about is confidential."
In the survey's cover letter, Evans described his effort as addressing "the trend of fewer applicants, fewer admits, and the one-sided news coverage given the black students on campus over the past six years."
"Black students have been cast in an unfair light and hopefully this will help stop the declining trend in both acceptances and admissions," he said.
"I'm not seeking to defend our admissions policy, but supposedly in intellectual circles, things are put in a forum and discussed," Evans added. "Heretofore, we've heard from only one Side."