Dean Lewis, We Pay Your Salary

TO THE EDITORS

I'm touched for Dean Lewis that the number of 750 people attending Thursday's rally in Harvard Yard made him happy. "Isn't that at most a fifth of the number expected?" he is quoted as writing to The Crimson ("PBHA Rally Draws Crowds," news story, Dec. 8, 1995). What a cavalier attitude to take towards legitimate student concerns he ought to be hearing. Lewis and his administrative cronies have been able to get away with ignoring students because they know that thousands of students won't show up.

We're busy doing our job, which is to study. The University takes great pride in its public relations campaigns that the great minds in this student body study so well. It allows administrators to omit mention of how poorly they do their job. Lewis apparently sees his as bullying those he should be serving. That's right, Dean Lewis, your job is to serve us. We, the students, and our parents pay your salary. That makes you our employee.

So why does the administration not listen to its employers? Why did it 'reorganize' Phillips Brooks House against the wishes of the Phillips Brooks House Association? Why did it act against student opinion on randomization, ethnic studies, a minority student center and razing Carey Cage? I am sure the administration will not bother answering these questions outright. After all, I and most other Harvard students didn't check our calendars before posing them.

But I think one administrator slipped and gave the real answer. This lapsus linguae can be found in today's article about the College's unnecessary escalation of alcohol policy enforcement. Winthrop House Senior Tutor Gregory Mobley spilled the administration's secret when he said, "We have a vital interest in keeping everyone safe until they grow up."

Until we grow up? These four words sum up the administration's ignorance of students at every level--we are not yet grown up. We are not yet grown up enough to handle our own drinking. We are not yet grown up enough to decide where we would like to live. And we are not yet grown up enough to be heard in restructuring our public service programs.

Well, allow me to retort. Harvard students are grown up enough to vote in the national elections of a country of 260 million, which the administration needs to be reminded is larger, more important, and even--gasp--wealthier than our precious University. Those of us in Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) programs are grown up enough to train to kill and, if necessary, die for this country. But the administration is probably right: I'm not grown up enough to choose where I live.

Dean Lewis is the spearhead of a group of administrators that sees itself as day-care providers for a red-brick campus of 6,400 pre-schoolers When they see bicycles shuttling students from class to class, they see training wheels on the back. When they hear of a student sucking a nipple, they think of the rubber cap to a bottle of formula. So they moon us, as Cambridge Mayor Kenneth E. Reeves '72 so accurately put it.

Lewis was clearly pleased with what he considers a low student turnout at the rally. It has been said that the human body was ingeniously designed so that we could neither pat ourselves on the back nor kick ourselves in the ass too easily. Through extensive practice, the Dean Lewis whom students know has gotten very good at patting himself on the back. But even a meager 750 people can deliver a walloping kick to the administration's ass. --David C. Maier '97