The Harvard Association of African and Afro American Students yesterday adopted a constitution with a membership clause which its leaders describe as "inclusive but not exclusive."
The clause reads: "Membership in the Association shall be open to African and Afro-American students currently enrolled in good standing at Harvard and Radcliffe."
Thomas Atkins 2G, who presided at the ratification meeting in the Winthrop House Junior Common Room, said he anticipates no objections when the constitution is presented for approval to the Harvard Council for Undergraduate Affairs and to Dean Watson.
"The organization has no general policy on the admission of white members," he said. "All requests for membership--by whites or Negroes--will be dealt with on an individual basis."
Another member of the Association stressed, though, that "the whole point of the organization is to have a perspective from a Negro standpoint." It would be impossible to preserve this, he felt, if whites became predominate in the organization or assumed leadership roles.
So far no white students have asked to attend the informal meetings of the Association, and its leaders do not expect that many whites will now wish to join.
The purposes of the Association are outlined in the preamble to the constitution adopted yesterday. It states: "We, the students of African descent at Harvard and Radcliffe, in order to promote mutual understanding and friendship between African and Afro-American students at Harvard and Radcliffe; to provide ourselves a voice in the Harvard and Radcliffe community by means of a publication and by means of periodic statements; and to develop the leadership capable of effectively coping with the various problems of our peoples, do hereby establish the Harvard Association of African and Afro-American Students."
All of the approximately 35 students at the meeting approved the constitution after only an hour of debate. The document has been evolving, Atkins stressed, for the last three months. About 70 African and American Negro students have attended informal organizational meetings.
After adopting the constitution, yesterday's meeting heard talks on whether or not desegregation is desirable, the role of the black man at Harvard, black nationalism, and the development of the Association.