Tutors to Retract Threats of Libel

Two tutors in Dunster House who sent letters to six other tutors threatening libel suits will apologize and retract the letter in writing, Master Karel F. Liem said yesterday.

Liem also took blame for the increase in tensions in the house, although he said the letters were sent without his knowledge.

At the request of the house committee co-chairs, Liem will hold a meeting tonight to address student concerns about the controversy. Dean of the College L. Fred Jewett '57 will attend, and a member of the Harvard Negotiation Project will moderate.

"I want to appeal to the students to look forward, and I will work together to find a fairer system of appointing and evaluating tutors," Liem said. "I have the good of the students in my heart."

Vincent W. Li '87 and his brother William W. Li '84 will send a letter to the six tutors to "smooth out tensions and try to diffuse a sense of threat," William Li said yesterday.

Li said he made the decision to send another letter last month, and told Dean of the College L. Fred Jewett '57 about it in a meeting last Thursday. He said no one ordered him or his brother to write the letter.

Liem said the Li brothers "made a gross error and misjudgment" when they sent the letter last month.

Li refused to confirm or deny Liem's statement that he would apologize to the tutors. Li also said he would not apologize to students, although he said he would try to attend tomorrow's meeting.

"This is not between me and students," Li said in a telephone interview yesterday. "If students have concerns, they can come to me personally."

Eight tutors said last year that Vincent W. Li '87, the assistant senior tutor in charge of hiring other tutors, had influenced Liem in the hiring of Li's brother, girlfriend and two longtime friends as resident tutors.

Liem held a three-hour meeting last May to discuss student and tutor concerns about conflicts in the house.

But last month, the lawyer for the Li brothers sent a letter to six tutors threatening legal action if they take "any further actions to propagate false and professionally damaging information." Sophie Volpp '85, a tutor in East Asian Studies, resigned, citing the letter as her reason for leaving.

Liem's announcement that the Li brothers would retract the letter came after 35 members of Dunster Students for Free Expression composed a list of questions about the recent tutor controversy at a meeting Mon- day night. House committee co-chairs presentedLiem with the list yesterday.

Issues raised in the list, which was also madeavailable to students yesterday, include increasedstudent involvement in tutor selection, theappointment of a third co-chair of the committeethat advises pre-meds and an explanation for thelack of tutors in several concentrations.

"People are very confused about what reallywent on about last year's tutor controversy," saidElizabeth Cotter '94, Dunster House Committee.co-chair. "There's a general lack of communicationin the House."