Conflicting Signals

TWO EVENTS last week underscored the hypocrisy of the University and its dealings with the city.

First, President Bok ventured to Beacon Hill, where he informed a taxation committee that the state's independent colleges and universities could not afford to lose their tax-exempt status. Tuitions would increase if the universities helped to bail out cities like Cambridge that are being crushed by Proposition 2 1/2, he said.

Second, the Harvard Business School announced a $5.6-million dormitory renovation. Some B-School students complained that as many as 18 first-year students had to share two showers.

While we sympathize with the plight of the B-School students, we sympathize more with the plight of Cambridge, where 25 per cent of municipal employees are scheduled to lose their jobs this spring, and Boston, where 3000 or more workers face the axe. Administrators may point to the University's autonomous each-tub-on-its-own-bottom financial system and say it would be impossible to divert B-School funds for general use. The point, though, is that there is money around the University that could be forwarded to Cambridge without decreasing the quality of education.

Bok is right when he says most private schools couldn't stand the pressures of taxation. But he is wrong in implying that Harvard, the wealthiest school in America, couldn't give a little more to Cambridge in its hour of need. The money should be found and donated--and, in the end, maybe cooperation like that is the best way to assure that universities are not taxed.