Short Takes

Students Buy Fewer Computers

Harvard students bought 14 percent fewer computers through the University's fall distribution program this year, said officials at the Office of Information Technology (OIT).

Peter Heffernan, a manager of OIT's Network Services Department, said that, since many students purchased systems last year when the sales program was first introduced, this year's sales were intended for "freshmen or people that missed out last year." He added that "more people are coming to school with their own P.C.'s [personal computers]."

David P. Etheridge, Technology Product Center (TPC) customer manager in charge of fall distribution, said that the lower sales were caused by this year's earlier fall distribution schedule.

The lower sales rate will not cause a change in the ordering system, and TPC will continue to provide fall distribution services next year, Etheridge said.

Last year students ordered 840 systems and picked up 741. This year, only 700 were ordered, and 635 picked up. Students who ordered computers but missed the two fall distribution dates must pick them up by the end of the month at 175 North Harvard Street.

Thompson Compares Self to Graham

Calling his campaign one of "accessibility, availability, compassion and good judgement," State Representative hopeful Alvin E. Thompson minimized his political differences with his opponent yesterday.

In his first press conference since he upset incumbent Saundra Graham (D-Cambridge) in the September primary, Thompson said both he and Graham--who is still running against him with a sticker campaign--were "right on the mark" on issues. But Thompson attacked Graham's "absentee record," adding that he would "be available 100 percent of the time."

Thompson said he supported the current system of rent control in Cambridge, which many call the most important issue in Cambridge politics. He said if he were to vote against rent control, "I'd be assasinated ten minutes later."

The truant officer said his agenda includes providing day-care for children in vacant public school classrooms, hiring a staffer to handle issues affecting the gay and lesbian community and opening more homeless shelters. He also promised to speed up the fight against drugs.

Broken Phone System Disrupts City Service

A breakdown at New England Telephone's Cambridge nerve center cut off service to much of the city yesterday afternoon.

Spokesman Thomas Degiacomo said there was "no official word" on the cause of the problem. Technicians began work on the problem shortly after it started around 12:30 p.m., he said. And reached at 5 p.m., he predicted the company "should have [phone service] back on before tonight."

While phone lines in every part of the city were disabled, the problem did not affect every building, Degiacomo said.

But much of Harvard's service was affected by the failure, Manager of Network Operations Paul Conway said.

Conway said many people thought that there were physical problems with their own telephones and complained to his office, which is responsible for the phone repair. His employees had to drop their work to answer the calls, he said.

Conway also said he kept in touch with the Harvard Police and the University Health Services in case of urgent calls. But a Harvard police spokesman said his department's emergency lines remained open.

Protesters Ask, Where Was George?

Demonstrators outside Bush campaign headquarters in Boston yesterday accused Vice-President Bush of giving a $40 million bribe to Iranian officials during the 1980 election campaign in exchange for an Iranian promise not to release the American hostages until after the election.

According to the Contragate Action Team, a local group, Bush met with representatives of the Ayatollah Khomeini in Paris on October 19, 1980 to finalize a deal in which Reagan campaign officials agreed to send arms to Iran once Reagan was elected.

Speakers at the rally, which drew about 150, claimed that national news organizations were not covering the story because Bush aide Donald Gregg had masterminded a media coverup.

Bush campaign officials did not take the charges seriously. "I do not believe that there is any possibility that those things are true," said Ron J. Balmer, executive director of the Bush campaign in Massachusetts."

The Contragate group chanted "Where was George?" as about 70 Bush supporters shouted, "Peace through strength."