Harvard officials yesterday criticized a Ralph Nader-sponsored organization which plans to monitor the University, saying that the group will not approach their stated task with an open mind.
"We have some skepticism about the value of the work to be done, because the 'Harvard Watch' people seem to have their minds made up," Vice President and General Counsel Daniel Steiner '54 said in a statement about the Nader organization, called Harvard Watch.
Steiner's statement was the first Harvard reponse to the Nader group's announcement of their intention to publicize University policy and try to open up what they call an authoritarian governance structure.
Corporation member and Geyser University Professor Henry Rosovsky criticized Harvard Watch saying that it reminded him of Accuracy in Academia, a conservative organization which monitors professors they consider to have a liberal bias.
Harvard Watch is being run by Robert Weissman '88-89, who is taking a year off to head up the project. Weissman is a member of the Southern Africa Solidarity Committee, a group of student activists that pressure the University to divest.
Steiner discounted charges by Nader and Weissman that the University does not examine its governance structure. He also said that the University community already actively discusses issues concerning Harvard's governing structure.
"Over the years there has been much discussion within the community among faculty, students, alumni and others about the governance of the University," said Steiner who added that such discussion "happens almost on a daily basis."
A study of Harvard's workings would be possible, Steiner said, because there is a "vast amount of published information about how Harvard works." "We're sure that a number of people at Harvard will be available to provide their views and thoughts," he said.
Nader, nationally known as a consumer advocateand for his efforts to promote freedom ofinformation, was optimistic about the potentialimpact of Harvard Watch on the University.
"Let's wait and see how robust the debate anddiscussion we generate will be and what effectthat will have on the University," Nader said, inresponse to Steiner's criticisms.
"Anyone approaches a study with certainprinciples, [however] we intend to be accuratewith our facts" said Nader, adding that he had a"commitment to acedemic freedom, sevice to theHarvard community, and to students'extra-curricular development."
Nader praised a recent speech by HarvardPresident Derek C. Bok, where he expressed concernthat the freedom of scholars may limited bycorporate and government funders.
"We all agree on certain principles but thedegree to which they are applied, negated andprotected is what we can take issue with," Nadersaid.
But Nader criticized Bok's performance aspresident.
"President Bok is performing his duties moreand more like Ronald Reagan: he is speakingthrough spokesman. We want to hear Bok speakdirectly about his views," Nader said.
Nader said he has developed his views on theUniversity from research for a book on Harvard LawSchool that his Center for the Study of ResponsiveLaw recently published. He said that this centerhas also issued reports on other Harvard graduateschools, and that he has had other dealings withthe University