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To the Editors of the CRIMSON:
The opposition of the University to an executive order requiring submission of employee racial statistics speaks poorly for the University's dedication to equal opportunity. The University claims that compliance with the order would be "repugnant to the dignity of the individual." But statistics hurt no one's dignity; what matters is the use to which statistics are put.
Only a formalistic interpretation of the Massachusetts Fair Employment Practices Act could justify Harvard's reluctance to count the colors of heads. FEP Acts attempt to prevent discrimination on the part of employers. The Executive Order attempts to insure that this very spirit of opportunity is complied with.
Discrimination has become a very subtle and refined skill in the North. Only the naive take the fact that a firm keeps no records about race as proof of fair employment policy. Only a color-conscious count of heads can discover de facto discrimination. And obviously, the government cannot excuse from such counts those institutions which insist upon their righteousness.
In its 1961 report, the United States Commission on Civil Rights said the following:
The Commission is aware that many agencies have abandoned keeping racial records for legitimate fear that they can facilitate or invite discrimination. It has found, however, that statistical data are often necessary for policy planning and evaluating local, state, and federal programs in terms of equality of opportunity, and believes that means can be found to prevent discriminatory use.
We agree. A social problem is not solved by ignoring it. John G. Butler '63, Mare J. Roberts '64, Richard Rothstein '63.
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