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Counter: Played No Role in AAA Letter

S. Allen Counter, director of the Harvard Foundation for Intercultural and Race Relations, yesterday said he did not encourage the public airing of Asian American Association (AAA) charges of racial insensitivity against Dean of Students Archie C. Epps III.

Counter's statements in a letter to The Crimson may be part of a widening rift between him and Epps, the College's top race relations official, who criticized Counter for his alleged role in the AAA charges.

"Anyone working at race relations is expected to follow professional codes of conduct which includes direct discussion with one's colleagues," Epps said. "It should not include working through students to send a message."

Epps said yesterday he had not received Counter's letter, which was sent to most of the College's top race relations officials. Epps added that he and Counter have not discussed AAA's grievances.

In the letter, Counter said he had referred the AAA co-chairs to Epps and other administrators to register their concerns, but said he had not seen the letter detailing their complaints which they distributed last month to University administrators. He acknowledged that the group had discussed their grievances against Epps with him prior to issuing the letter.

The AAA letter, distributed to top administrators and the editors of The Crimson, alleged that Epps formulates race relations policy unilaterally and without any student input, and that he is insensitive to Asian American students, greeting them haphazardly in various Asian languages.

Counter said he has "a great deal of respect" for AAA leaders and emphasized that the Foundation takes seriously any complaints about race relations.

Counter did not defend Epps from AAA's charges and he criticized The Crimson for fabricating "controversy" and making "improper allegations" that he encouraged the AAA leaders to make the charges against Epps.

"We are always concerned when any member of our community is perceived as the victim or the cause of racial insensitivity," Counter wrote in the letter.

In an interview last month, AAA Co-president Haewon Hwang '95 said she and other AAA representatives discussed their complaints and the idea of a letter with Counter before the letter was delivered to Epps on May 20. Hwang said Counter did not discuss the possibility of talking about the grievances with Epps.

Both Hwang and Co-president Joan R. Cheng '95 could not be reached for comment last night.

At the time, Epps called AAA's letter "irresponsible" and called the letter "full of unsubstantiated smears" in an interview late last month. President Neil L. Rudenstine strongly defended Epps a week later, calling the Race Czar "even-handed.