West's Departure Not Only Reason For Low Enrollment

Letters to the Editors

To the editors:

The Feb. 12th article “Af-Am 10 Enrollment Plummets After Spike,” focuses solely on Prof. Cornel West’s departure as the major reason for the decline in class enrollment. While Professor West was certainly an engaging and popular figure that drew a number of students to class through his reputation and rhetorical ability, the issue of Af-Am 10 losing its placement as a Core requirement cannot be ignored. Harvard showed tremendous support to the mission of the department and African and African-American Studies in general by placing it within the core as an option to fill the Historical Studies A requirement. This allowed individuals genuinely interested in the history of black people in America or the development of race as an American social construct to explore their interests without feeling as though they were giving up valuable space in their course schedules.

If University President Lawrence H. Summers and Harvard College are as committed to exposing students to an intellectually and culturally diverse curriculum as they claim to be, then all efforts will be made to return Af-Am 10 or another class in the Af-Am Department to the Core shortly. I am sure you will then see the enrollment figures increase substantially and exponentially, as students learn that professors Michael Dawson and Evelyn Hammonds are two of the most brilliant, universally acclaimed and engaging scholars in their respective fields.

Brandon M. Terry ’05

Feb. 12, 2004

The writer is president of the Harvard Black Men’s Forum and a joint concentrator in Government and African and African-American Studies.