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To The Editors of the Summer News:
For the past 2 summers, I have been doing research in Biochemistry at Harvard, and have lived in Summer School Dormitories and eaten at the Harvard Union. I feel that I am somewhat aware of what the Summer School is like as a result.
I have just read the article in your August 6th issue about Racism at the Summer School and have found it wholly one-sided and to a good degree mistaken. "Racism" is a very strong word and one should think twice before using it. Certainly, playing "psychedelic music" rather than "soul music" at mixers is a poor example of Racism. I myself prefer Beethoven, but I am hesitant on that account to think of mixers as "Anti-intellectualism at Harvard Summer School."
As a graduate of Columbia and presently a medical student there, I "grew up" in the "Ivy League Racial Setting"--i.e. I had (and have) black classmates, of course, but not too many, needless to say. As a result, I must confess, my friends included only 2 Negroes. Once I moved into the Summer School dorms last summer, that number almost immediately increased by 400%--i.e. I met 8 or so black students whom I consider more than mere acquaintances. This summer, again, I have had the chance to meet several other Negro students. All of the black students I have met here were in the ISSP program and, hence, they came from predominantly-Negro colleges. Obviously, these friendships proved mutually beneficial.
I record my own experience for I feel it is also that of many white students of the Summer School. The Summer School, with ISSP and CLEO, provides an excellent chance for blacks and whites to meet informally and get to know what the "Others" are really like.
To those who in the dining hall, see "Black Tables" and White Tables," I can only reply that if they look a little more carefully, they will see "Black with White Polkadot Table"s and "White with Black Polkadot Tables," Self-imposed "segregation" is to some degree a part of human nature. The "White Tables" themselves can almost be subdivided into "Brooklyn Tables," "Yale Tables," "Chem S-20 Tables," etc.
To call Racism a significant facet of the Summer School is, in my opinion, a gross injustice to the type of institution that will, I feel, make a substantial dent in today's "Racial Problems." Martin W. Oster
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