To the Editors of The Crimson:
In his news feature, "Razo Case Raises Wide Questions," Jeffrey S. Nordhaus drew on several long conversations with me and others in an effort to portray more general "Minority Plight." As I remarked to him, I was seeking to disaggregate and "complexify" the story, which was inevitably getting too long for daily jounalism. Mr. Nordhaus wrote with care and sympathy. But he reverses the races in one episode I told him. I was seeking to illustrate the ways a Black table in a House may form, and the difficulty white students or even Tutors would have in going to sit down at such a table. I said it would take the breezy exuberanced of a former Vice President who would go up to a Black table in a way that I could not myself do, and say, "Would you motherfuckers let this white fellow sit down with you?" (I also said I would prefer not to have the episode put into the story, not using such language comfortably either in my conversation with him or in this letter.) It was to this inhibition I referred, not to a general decline in the attention House Masters pay vis-a-vis "affairs of race," for the House Masters I know are exceedingly concerned with students as individuals, not just as cohorts.
I also did not make myself clear about competition at Harvard, where I referred to the Law and Business Schools as well as to the College. I have no basis for saying that "I do not know any institution that puts so much pressure on their students in terms of grade competition." Rather, I emphasized the more general aspects of competitiveness at Harvard, among faculty as well as among students, at once burden, bravura, and benefit. Grade competition may well be higher at selective colleges with fewer non-academic arenas in which to seek distinction. David Riesman '31 Ford Professor of Social Sciences, emeritus