To the Editors of the CRIMSON:
The Harvard Council for Undergraduate Affairs is charged with the responsibility of recommending approval or disapproval of the formation of all undergraduate organizations, or any constitutional changes of those organizations. In most cases, this is merely a routine, formal matter. However, we were faced with an arduous task when we were presented the constitution of the proposed Harvard African and Afro-American Association. While at the same time we highly welcomed an organization with the general aims and principles of the Association, we were deeply disturbed by the membership clause, which appeared to exclude a good many people. Consequently, we had to ask many penetrating, and perhaps, irritating questions. Unfortunately, the answers to our questions did not dispel our anxiety about the membership clause. The Council asked if white Africans would be eligible for membership. The answer was no, because white Africans claim they are Europeans, and one must be able to trace his ancestry to a certain part of Africa to be eligible for membership. Thus Chinese, non Afro-Arabs, most Europeans, and many people in the Americas would be excluded, for example.
One Council member asked if his great-grandfather had been an Afro-American does this qualify the Council member for the proposed Association? One answer was, "We could give you a blood test," and the only other answer was, "When you are an African or Afro-American, you know it." Another Council member asked if he simply agreed with the views of the Association, could he join? The reply was, "Not unless you manage to perform alchemy." Thus, the Council was left with no choice but to report its findings as it did to the Faculty committee.
We are, however, very pleased to see the clarifications offered by Mr. Anoche's letter. A careful reading of his letter shows new insights into the problem at hand. These insights clearly show that the Association should now have no objection to amending their membership clause to allow all Harvard students who share the group's aims and policies to belong. This slight amendment of the membership clause would have met our initial objections, and would do so now. The problem can most easily be overcome by the group is complete keeping with Mr. Anoche's statements of their views, and the Association can take its place as an extremely valuable addition to Harvard student life. R. Thomas Seymour Chairman, Harvard Council for Undergraduate Affairs