Secretary of Education William J. Bennett yesterday renewed his call for a crackdown on drug abuse on college campuses, singling out Harvard as the "flagship" university that should lead the movement.
He cited as illustrations of the problem a two-part Harvard Crimson series on student drug use and a chapter in the 1986 Reed College Student Handbook in which students said their colleges did not strictly enforce drug regulations.
"It's a violation, an offense to everything that higher education stands for," Bennett said.
College administrators still pay "insufficient attention to the problem," Bennett told about 175 people at a lunch for the department's Fund for Improvement of Post-Secondary Education, which in the coming year will award about $8 million in grants for campuses to establish or improve anti-drug programs.
In his speech, the secretary quoted sections of "Crack in the Ivy," a two-part series that ran in The Crimson November 19-20, as evidence that the University treats the drug issue casually, said John Walters, special assistant to Bennett.
Speaking Wednesday at a Rotary Club luncheon in Dallas, Bennett said, "It's important to talk about places like Harvard, because Harvard represents educational excellence in this country," the Dallas Morning News reported yesterday.
Bennett termed "unconscionable" what he called Harvard's lack of activity to counteract drug use and sales on campus, the Morning News said. "What Harvard fails to do, others will fail to do," said the secretary.
Harvard Vice President for Government and Public Affairs John Shattuck yesterday downplayed the significance of drug problems on campus.
"I think Mr. Bennett is once again engaged in an effort to grab the headlines on a complicated issue, and he's using the Harvard name to do it," Shattuck said.
The University takes "drug-selling, in particular, very seriously...We're not going to exaggerate the problem like Secretary Bennett," he added. But Shattuck said he did not anticipate any additional pressure on Harvard to stiffen drug-use policies and enforcement.
"We've gotten the impression they [college adminstrators] don't consider drugs on campus a problem," said Thomas Lyon, a Department of Education public affairs officer. He added that the articles suggested "the students seem to be looking at a very different campus than the adminstrators are."
Dean of Students Archie C. Epps III said yesterday, "Secretary Bennett's remarks do not address the basis of the problem since the regulation inand of itself may only serve to drive thesituation further underground.
"Instead," the dean added, "the fundamentalissue is an educational one of trying to teachpeople how to be responsible for themselves andothers."
Since the series was run, College officialshave had some discussions about what steps theywill take to curb drug use at Harvard, Epps said."The attenae are certainly attuned to thesituation," he added.
Bennett's repeated call for a halt to drug useon campus "is a major step he's taken to makepublic what some people have thought privately forsome time," Walters said.