Mather Students Sign Statement Against Slurs

Mather House residents met last night to sign a statement of solidarity condemning two racial slurs that have recently appeared in the house.

Last Monday, someone wrote the words "Die Nigger" on the wall above the weight/fitness room sign in the Commons area. About a month ago, David Porter, a Mather resident tutor who is Black, found the word "nigger" scrawled across the name card on his door.

About 150 students and tutors attended last night's meeting and signed a statement that read in part: "We are outraged, by these acts and denounce the racist attitudes they embody."

The statement has been placed on the main bulletin board in Mather House for more signatures.

"The [racist acts] were a very disturbing set of events," said Mather House Master Sandra A. Naddaff '75. "However, people have really come out tonight to condemn and show support and commitment for the community. We were quite pleased with the turnout."

Jerry P. Doyle, a Mather House tutor, said he sees a heightened awareness of race there now.

"Sometimes there's a sense that at places like Harvard that race is no longer an issue and it still clearly is," he said.

At the meeting, some students expressed surprise that racism was displaying itself at Harvard.

"You just assume that people nowadays don't do those things," said Jane Herr '95. "You figure that especially at Harvard where things are supposedly liberal, this just wouldn't happen."

Many students said they were happy about how the House masters responded to the acts of racism.

"From outside view, the masters have real compassion," said John K. Waldrop '96, who is Black. "[They] have real compassion," said John K. Waldrop '96, who is Black. "(They) were willing to show the aggressors that we don't accept it."

Waldrop said that the Mather masters have managed to make the Harvard environment more welcoming to minority students by their response to the situation, including a visit to the Mather dining hall to talk to minority students.

"This incident, obviously, is not going to make me hate Harvard," Waldrop said.

But others were more wary of the racist acts and expressed concern about the lack of a fixed plan to deal with racism.

"The fact that we still haven't solved this problem is a reflection of how this campus handles the racial question," said Amillah Pinnock '97. "The fact that there is not a built-in method in Mather House to deal with racist problems is true of the University as well."

Some said, though, that the actions could lead to more togetherness within the house.

"In a certain perverse sense, I hope this may lead to more community spirit in the House," said Leonid Fridman '85, who is a resident math tutor.

"Mather House really came together in a moment of crisis," Waldrop said