PBHA & Politics


To the Editors of The Crimson:

On the day before the election, I heard a message on my answering machine that deeply disturbed me. A woman on the other end of the line identified herself as a member of the Homeless Committee of Phillips Brooks House and was calling for one of my roommates who is registered to vote in Cambridge. As a registered Cambridge voter myself, I listened to hear what she had to say.

She wanted to remind my roommate that the elections were the next day and to "urge" him to vote no on Question 3 (the Citizens for Limited Taxation (CLT) petition) and for John Kerry's re-election to the U.S. Senate. Then she hung up.

I was appalled. Here is someone from Phillips Brooks House, an organization to which I belong, telling me how I should vote I am disgusted that a committee is calling up voters and plugging for certain candidates and referendum questions.

Why is the Homeless Committee making these telephone calls? For starters, no reason was given on why the committee (and therefore Phillips Brooks House) is supporting these stances. What good can come from edicts on how to vote if no facts are used to support them?

And what rationale can the Homeless Committee have for making these endorsements? Neither Kerry nor Rappaport has been on the forefront of furthering the causes of homeless people. Also, cuts are going to be made in the state government with or without the passage of CLT, which will probably hurt programs helping the homeless. I find no foundations for the endorsements except for the committee members to try and inflict their political opinions upon others.

I am not making a random, unqualified attack on Phillips Brooks House. I am a tutor at an elementary school in Dorchester through this organization. It is very eye-opening to go to the inner-city and see what conditions are really like, and it is something I wish more Harvard students would do.

They will not, however, if Phillips Brooks House continues to take political stances that alienate many would-be participants in their programs. then, no one wins out, not the people who might have joined, nor the people who may have been helped in some way by those students' efforts. It is a lose-lose situation and until Phillips Brooks House stops playing politics, it is one that will not change. Andrew G. Larson '93