Remove the grates

THE MAIL

To The Editors of The Crimson:

Even this letter is pointless.

That's because the grate covers that have been put up in front of Leverett House will remain, at least until Monday, and the damage has been done. We will meet Monday with House authorities to convince them that what they have done is wrong. (The fact that we may have to convince them is frightening in itself.) Their response has been "fair," given that they put the grates up in the first place, and it seems that it may simply take more time to have them removed than it did to have them set up, which is typical of the way this institution works, even when there is an outcry.

I know the reasoning for the covers--and the concern for security is a legitimate one. What is morally abhorrent is that the covers went up at all--on the coldest night of the year, with no warning to the men who used those worm places, or to Leverett students. It took more conscious effort and cost to cover those grates than to simply leave them open. It is evidence of a desire for simple solutions; to connect those men to a rash of thefts in Leverett simply perpetuates a myth about the homeless. If there were complaints, there should have been discussion. But none of this happened, and the grates went up.

Harvard can be very generous to the homeless in an institutional way--witness its contributions of food and money to area shelters. But this was not a case of "the homeless problem." These were people--and that's all that needs to be said about them. They have probably found another place to stay (hopefully not a shelter, if that's not what they wanted.) But the act was done--and it is overwhelmingly sad.

I don't want Harvard to be an institution; I want it to be a community. Maybe I have too many illusions about Harvard's potential, or maybe Harvard is simply no better than the people who comprise it.

It will be easy to remove the grate covers, and the sooner the better. It will be harder to remove the shame and degradation we have brought on ourselves. Betsy Fishman '88