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The Bad Samaritans


With a paucity of initiative, enterprise, and imagination, the Harvard Combined Charities Drive has ground to a dismal halt. At best, it would be charitable to call the leadership of the campaign miserable.

The failure of the recent campaign is perhaps the best example of the chairman's ineptitude. Armed with his own experience selling beer mugs and Harvard pennants to Yardlings, and having access to the entry captains used in the successful PBH blood drive, the Council's minister of hope failed miserably in his task. In some areas of the College, the drive ground to a complete halt, less than half of the potential donors being contacted.

Those men who were reached were presented with a rather unappealing list of recommended charities to which to give. Having already given roughly $2100 to the World University Service during the Hungarian relief drive, many students were faced with a choice between WUS, PBH, the Salzburg Seminar, the American Field Service, and the Red Feather campaign. Without previous publicity about the aims of these various organizations, most donors were reluctant to give and seldom had any alternative charities in mind. As a result of lack of information on the recipients advocated by the Council, students felt little or no interest in the drive.

The Charities themselves were dubious choices. Except for PBH, which will probably receive its money, none of the groups had any particular meaning to Harvard students. Having already done our bit for WUS, it seems unnecessary to contribute to it again, particularly when Radio Free Europe or CARE are far better known and perhaps more worthwhile.

While considering the advisability of revising the list of recommended groups, to the possibility of relinquishing its fund-raising campaign to PBH, which could utilize its blood solicitors to collect funds. PBH, in a drive which involved a great deal of paper work and sustained volunteer effort, has shown itself to be a competent agent for such work.

If the Council does retain direction of the Combined Charities Drive, it should, profiting from this year's example, exercise far more caution in the selection of a chairman. The Council has generally shown itself lacking in backbone, but its retreat before the threat of resignation by this year's leader was ignominious. To avoid such unfortunate, if not degrading incidents, in the future, the Council should screen its potential agents with care, and exercise a firm control over his activities once he has been appointed. It is now too late to remedy the failure of the 1957 campaign, but there is no reason to accept the chairman's plaintive excuse that student contributions have dropped steadily since the end of World War II. Such claims should be carefully examined, and solutions for the problems that have been raised should be found. Council action, if undertaken as a sincere attempt to find cures, can succeed.

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