As soon as I read that an alumnus had donated a Colorado ski resort to the University, I knew there would be trouble. I was right. Suddenly there are students declaring that Harvard should not accept the gift, or should at least restrict its use by Harvard organizations. Surely this is a serious case of misperceiving reality.
The ROTC debate has already overemphasized Harvard's power to change government policy. But whereas ROTC is a government controlled entity, this (or any other) Colorado ski resort is a privately-owned business. It had nothing to do with the Colorado amendment passed in November, and to not accept it as the generous gift it is would not only have the same effect as pitting in the ocean, it would, in the long term, be imprudent.
Leaders of the Colorado boycott are already being counterproductive by wanting to penalize a state which is actually relatively supportive of gay rights anyway. Many urban areas had already legislated various right for gays before the hysteria surrounding the Clinton presidential campaign diverted attention from the amendment, allowing its supporters to barely push it through in a 53-47 percent vote.
Chances are that many of those who may be affected by the boycott actually voted against the amendment. By protesting against the entire state, gay rights activists are targeting their supporters as well as their enemies. There is simply no way around this fact.
As to whether Harvard should engage in this dubious boycott, there can be no question that to do so would only hurt the University. By not accepting the gift, Harvard will not be able to turn back the clock to November 3 and change the vote.
No amount of action could do that and it is foolish to believe otherwise. Over time, it is hard to tell what myriad of legislation may eventually come out in favor of gays in Colorado, but if Harvard does not accept this gift while it is being so graciously offered, it will never have the chance to accept it again, no matter what Colorado's stance towards gays may someday be.
I hope the University will have the good sense to realize that refusing this gift would do no more good than make us look like an institution of ingrates, with no eye on the future. William E. Pike '95