Dunster Dismisses Vocal Tutor

Masters Criticize Ignatiev's Conduct During Toaster Controversy

Dunster House will not rehire the non-resident tutor who vocally objected to a University-subsidized kosher toaster, house officials said yesterday.

Dunster House Co-Master Hetty Liem said non-resident tutor Noel Ignatiev is being released because his conduct during the toaster oven controversy was "unbecoming of a Harvard tutor."

Ignative created a storm of controversy earlier this year by objecting to the University's purchase of a kosher toaster oven for the house dining hall.

Dunster House Master Karel F. Liem's decisions to release Ignatiev has sparked cries of protest from students.

A letter from the "Dunster Students for Free Expression" was distributed in the house on Friday. The letter alleged that "the integrity of the Dunster community [had been] seriously violated" by the incident.

The house masters responded to the door-drop with an open letter to members of the house yesterday.

"Noel Ignatiev has served full-term for four years; that he is not being re-appointed as a tutor is not a reflection of his abilities as a teacher nor of his right to express his opinions," the Liems wrote.

Hetty Liem said it is the job of a tutor "to foster a sense of community and tolerance and to serve as a role model for the students," and that Ignatiev had not been able to do this.

Liem said Ignatiev had tried to "impress his own beliefs on others," and to"single-handedly and unilaterally demand reversalof a house policy," with regard to the koshertoaster oven.

She said Ignatiev could have held a roundatablediscussion to address the issue, but instead actedlike "a bull charging in a shop."

Ignatiev said he disagreed with Liem'scharacterization of his actions. "I think I tookthe appropriate response," he said.

"I had a disagreement with a policy introducedby Harvard Dining Services, and so communicateddirectly with them. I think I did it in areasonable, civilized way," he said.

Ignatiev said he wrote a letter to the mastersinforming them of his actions and said he believedhe was acting through the proper channels.

"When I wrote to the Dining Services, I gave acopy to the house master. It's not that I wentbehind his back," he said.

Ignatiev said he views his firing as aninfringement of students' rights to hear a varietyof opinions. "It is more of an injustice to thehouse than it is to me," he said.

Dunster resident Peter b. Rutledge '92 said theaction threatens to stifle free expression anddiscussion inside the house.

"The actions of the masters, which had we notbrought this decision to light would not have beendisclosed, threaten the role of the tutor in thelife of the undergraduates and undermine thetutor's ability to broaden our intellectualhorizons through unrestricted politicaldiscourse," said Rutledge.

The flyer distributed by the Dunster residentsalso criticized the "secretive" nature ofIgnatiev's firing.

Ignatiev said he did not receive a notice ofrenewal as he had in the past. When he mentionedthis to Karel Liem at a House function, the mastertold him that he was not going to be rehired andthat he would receive a formal letter shortly.

Adam K. Goodheart '92, one of the DunsterStudents for Free Expression, suggested that "theLiems were trying to stall things until the summerso that students and tutors wouldn't be around toprotest it."

Dunster House students have held at least oneinformal meeting about the incident.

"I have been extremely encouraged by what seemsto be almost unanimous groundswell support fromboth students and tutors since we distributed ourletter," said Goodheart