College officials and Faculty members are responding negatively to protesting students' creation of an Alternative Senior Gift Fund that will go to the University when it hires more minority and women Faculty.
The Alternative Senior Gift Coalition will attempt to "call attention" to the lack of representation on the Faculty and hopes to pressure academic departments to hire more women and minorities, said organizer Megan L. Peimer '97.
About 20 Faculty members have already pledged support for the drive, but other administrators and Faculty members are highly critical of the seniors' campaign methods.
Dean of the College Harry R. Lewis '68 yesterday described the decision to establish the fund as "rather self-serving."
"Harvard seniors who decline to contribute to Harvard because of its perceived deficiencies are in a morally very difficult situation," he said in an e-mail. Lewis said he cannot respect the students' decision to form an alternate fund.
"It is hard to respect the position taken by those [students who say]...the institution is unworthy of the very kind of support from which they have received such benefit," Lewis said.
Some female Faculty members also said they disagreed with the coalition's methods, suggesting that students pursue a less confrontational stance toward Faculty reform.
Cynthia M. Friend, professor of chemistry, called the fund "counter-productive."
Friend, who is currently the only tenured female Faculty member in the chemistry department, said she would prefer a method that "would be in cooperation [with the adminis- tration], rather than...confrontational."
Regardless of the coalition's methods, many students and Faculty appear to agree that the University has a noticeable shortage of tenured female and minority Faculty.
In fact, of the Ivy League schools, Harvard has among the lowest percentages of tenured chairs occupied by women.
Assistant Dean of Freshmen for Academic Affairs Elizabeth M. Doherty attributed the shortage of women in the Faculty to a slow turnover rate within the Faculty itself.
But Professor of Sociology Mary C. Waters, who is acting as an adviser to the coalition, said slow turnover is no excuse for administrative inaction.
Waters said students who search for role models among women and minorities cannot wait for turnover to take effect.
"If the students feel that this [fund] is a valid way to express their concerns, then more power to them," she said.
Waters said that although the administration has made a commitment to hiring more women and minority Faculty, there is "not as much progress as possible.