University Can Afford Incentives for Minorities

DISSENT

"Hundreds of colleges and universities all over the country" may face a minority hiring problem. But the staff unfortunately neglects to see that Harvard is not just any university. When Harvard makes decisions, it sets an example--for bettor or for worse. The issue of minority hiring is no exception.

The charge that Harvard is "financially restricted" in hiring is ridiculous. How many of those "hundreds of colleges and universities" can trot out an endowment of well over $5 billion? How many of them are in the midst of a capital campaign expected to raise an additional $2 billion? Harvard is only financially restricted when it chooses to be.

If the University wished, it could certainly offer monetary incentives to attract much-needed minority faculty members. In fact, it already has, with DuBois Professor of the Humanities Henry Louis Gates. Jr. and, more recently, with Princeton Professor Cornel West '74.

The staff also cites the scope of Harvard's "40 departments and several graduate schools" as a reason that any hiring of minority faculty will be "slow and scattered." What kind of logic is that? Does that mean that the University should never hire any minority faculty members because they will immediately be swallowed up in the frightening miasma that is Harvard? There is such a thing as proceeding one step at a time. The staff, in both its logic and its recommendations, does not seem to understand that.

The staff is swayed by pretty statistics and misdirected sympathy for the ever-beleaguered administration. If the University were to follow the sentiment of the staff's editorial, it would be completely justified in not hiring a single minority faculty member for the next 25 years.