Challenge Grants NeededTo the editors:
The Crimson's criticism of an Undergraduate Council effort to combat homophobia on Harvard's campus (Editorial, March 21) shows a remarkable and distressing desire on the part of The Crimson to hurt an important and worthy effort before it has a chance to succeed. It is particularly bizarre that the editorial board chose to criticize the council for allocating money to fight against homophobia before even waiting to see what the money will be used for.
Is the challenge grant a panacea for bigotry and hatred on this campus? Of course not. But it would have been far more responsible if the editorial board had waited to see how the money was used before attacking a project that is part of a cause that the board supports.
Your editorial claims that "the task of eradicating homophobia has been presented to the campus as a 'project challenge.'" That could not be further from the truth. What has been presented to the campus is an opportunity to use $1,000 to organize an event or series of events as part of a much broader effort to fight against bigotry and intolerance. I wish The Crimson could be a part of that effort, rather than simply remain on the sidelines ripping apart well-intentioned and potentially effective proposals.
David B. Orr '01
March 21, 2000
The writer, an Undergraduate Council representative, is chair of the council's anti-homophobia task force.
Harvard's ROTC Leaders
I am pleased to see that The Crimson is offering coverage to the Harvard students who take part--and indeed, take an active leadership role--in the Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) program (News, March 20). However, I believe your article was misleading, in that it suggested that this is the first time that Harvard students have assumed such prominent leadership positions.
To the contrary, last semester, in an unprecedented occurrence, all three service units were commanded by Harvard students. The Navy was commanded by Marisa L. Porges '00. The Army was commanded by Alex S. Herzlinger '00 and the Air Force was commanded by myself. Harvard cadets and midshipmen have always been very active in these programs, despite the lack of attention they receive.
I am happy to see that these two cadets are receiving the recognition they deserve. But in the future, I hope you will not miss reporting history-making occurrences such as last fall's tri-service Harvard command.
Robert D. Caridad '00
March 20, 2000
This writer is a fourth-year cadet with the Air Force ROTC.
Calling the Quad Home
I am writing in response to Adam I. Arenson's column on "The Death of the Houses" (Column, March 20). I agree with Arenson that there are some inequalities within the Harvard system, and that reducing the size of blocking groups to eight people is not necessarily going to make House communities more diverse.
However, I must disagree with Arenson's numerous disparaging remarks about life in the Quad. I'll admit that some of my blockmates were none too pleased when we first heard the news that we were placed into Pforzheimer House. We were even more devastated when the ten of us were put in the Jordan Co-op, which I can say is probably the worst housing on campus.
But if Arenson had ever lived in the Quad, he would know that he was wrong, and might not think those who liked living there were so "strange." Not only did we feel like we fully belonged to a great House community, but because we lived in Jordan, we made an even bigger effort to meet people and get involved in House life.
Perhaps students aren't as comfortable going into Houses as they used to be because they can no longer be sure of what type of atmosphere they're moving into. But, hey, presumably we're all intelligent, driven individuals, so maybe it's time we took time to get to know the people who lived around us. If you want a House community, go and be part of it. More importantly, don't put down the other Houses that have great spirit just because it's lacking in your own. It's not about whether you live at the River or in the Quad, but about where your friends are and the effort you make.
Katherine O'Neil '01
March 20, 2000
Fonda's Unsettling Past
Last Wednesday, Harvard hosted Jane Fonda, an active supporter of America's totalitarian opponent in the Vietnam conflict (News, March 16). On Thursday, Harvard hosted Patrick Buchanan, a controversial politician with unpopular views (News, March 17). The contradiction in student reaction to the speeches and in your coverage of the speeches amazes me. Attendees of Fonda's speech warmly received her, and never questioned her about her actions in support of Ho Chi Minh and North Vietnam. Similarly, the news article neglected to mention that aspect of her past. Buchanan, on the other hand, was widely protested, and audience members hissed at him and interrupted him during his speech. The Crimson devoted the vast majority of its coverage of his speech to criticisms of his views.
The controversy over Buchanan stems from his words, not his actions. Fonda, on the other hand, acted not only against policy but against American servicemen. North Vietnamese propagandists photographed her posing with North Vietnamese anti-aircraft guns that had been used to shoot down American pilots. She visited North Vietnamese prison camps at which hundreds of American veterans have reported being tortured by their captors.
Harvard students and The Crimson should be ashamed at the amazing hypocrisy of protesting a politician with controversial views while praising an active supporter of a regime that tortured Americans.
Alex S. Herzlinger '00
March 17, 2000