To the Editors of the Crimson:
In light of the controversy surrounding the events which culminated in the cancellation of the RUS women's dinner to have been held March 15 in Mather House dining hall, I feel it necessary to give a firsthand account of the situation. Hopefully, the H-R community, when presented with the correct facts, will understand what the Radcliffe Union of Students women's dinners are trying to do for the women of Radcliffe and not against the men of Harvard.
The first Crimson article seemed to paint a picture of the RUS Mather House women's dinner as discriminating against men, and therefore, unwarranted. In my opinion and that of the RUS Executive Board, the article was very negative in its treatment of the event, and served only to reinforce the misconception some people have of RUS as a separatist organization.
The second Crimson article dealing with the dinner, although much less biased and far more factual, was still incomplete in its appraisal of the situation. Mather House had been contacted about the dinner several weeks in advance. The House Office had been asked permission to hold the dinner in the main dining hall. The House Council had been contacted and asked for its support. It seemed that the dinner, which would last less than an hour--from 5:15 to 6:00 p.m.--would be a successful event, approved and backed by the Mather House Office and Council.
The purpose of the dinner was not to discriminate against men. It was to be held so that Radcliffe women, dues-paying members of RUS, could meet together to discuss women's issues with the legislators of the Radcliffe Union of Students. The fact that men were not invited to the dinner was much publicized in the first Crimson article and, albeit to a lesser degree, was mentioned in the second. However, neither article stressed the fact that women other than dues-paying undergraduates were not invited to the RUS women's dinner either. The dinner was to be held at Mather so that RUS members from the River Houses could more easily attend the event, which had previously been held only at the Radcliffe Quad in Moors dining hall. A great many of the women in Leverett, Quincy, Eliot, etc. expressed interest in attending the monthly event, but found it difficult to get to Radcliffe, especially since the buses do not begin to run at the River Houses until dinner is over. Because RUS expected a large turnout, between 80-120 women, the Mather House main dining hall was chosen over the small one, as the latter is not large enough to accommodate comfortably more than 50 people.
Unfortunately, Dean Epps's office would not allow RUS to hold the dinner because no campus organization is allowed to use a House dining hall during meals if it means the exclusion of House members. The ruling, issued Friday, March 11, 1977, left the RUS Executive Board too little time to move the dinner to another location. Thus, the event was cancelled.
However, although it is realized that not all women have a need for the RUS women's dinners, a large percentage of the RUS members in River Houses would like to participate in such an activity. Therefore, RUS will find a way to serve its members. Plans for an RUS women's dining hall at a River location are not dead! Denise M. Moorehead '77 Vice-President, Radcliffe Union of Students