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To the Editors of the CRIMSON:
Once again we see he ironic efficiency with which the University can enforce its dictates on student "rights and responsibilities," in comparison with the lethargy and footdragging that characterize its efforts to meet its own responsibilities. Let the issue be one of securing court injunctions or activating the Subcommittee of Six, and the response is instantaneous and effective. When the issues turn on acting to end restrictive hiring practices in construction of its own buildings-the shameful situation which has caused students to violate these rules of procedural "responsibility" -then we see everything from outright lies to constant shifs of position, the latter usually in response to the very pressures for which black students are now being punished.
To deal with one conrete issue, probably the most important of the current OBU demands, that of assuring a minimum of 20 per cent black and third-world workers on Harvard construction sites: At present we have the University taking he position that:
(a)Any proposal to have a minimum quota of minority workers would unfairly discriminate against white workers.
(b)The University will agree to a quota of 9.3 per cent (based on the presumed proportion of black and third-world residents of Boston and Cambridge).
(c)The University sees no basis for OBU's 20 per cent figure.
(This plehora of contradictory and evasive responses is reminiscent of the man in the Sholem Aleichem story who, when asked by a neighbor to return the pot he borrowed, responded that, first, he had already returned it; second, it was broken when borrowed; and third, he never borrowed it in the first place.)
It is hard to believe that at this time Harvard is seriously putting forth its first argument about quotas being discriminatory; fortunately, its agreed commitment to 9.3 per cent disposes of the theoretical issue. But let us look closely at that figure and Harvard's unwillingness to accept the OBU demand for 20 per cent, as important in it self and as illustrative of Harvard's attitude of giving inch by inch grudgingly-which belies their statement of Dec. 2 that "our interests are the same as OBU on these quesions."
The 9.3 per cent figure is based on 1960 Census figures. Even assuming the correctness of the formula (i.e., that the proportion to be applied to Harvard's construction force is the percentage of nonwhite population living in Boston and Cambridge) it is not a matter of esoteric knowledge that in the last nine years Boston has been losing white population at an extremely rapid rate while the nonwhite population has been rising. Is it honest then to use 1960 figures? Do they respond that no more recent data are available? Two phone calls this afternoon, to ABCD and the Cambridge Community Development Office, ascertained that in fact some pretty current figures are available. A 1968 Boston census indicates that the city's population (apart from those living in group quarters: hospitals, dormitories, prisons, etc.. who amount to 35-40,000) is 535,000-a precipitous drop from the 1960 figure of 697,000. Combined with increases in the city's black population, the Research Division of United Community Services estimates that 17 per cent of Boston's population is now nonwhite. A 1969, Cambridge census shows a black population of at least 7 per cent, probably somewhat higher. Combined figures for the two cities show that as of the late 1960's at least 15-16 per cent of the population is nonwhite. We also know from previous Census work that black residents are systematically undercounted in censuses (transiency, intentional avoidance of surveys, discrimination on the part of surveyors, etc.) by about 10 per cent. The notion of merely proportional representation in construction jobs is probably faulty, too, considering the far greater underrepresentation and lower potential for representation in white-collar occupations. And the notion of compensatory atcion is perfectly justifiable on practical and moral grounds. Thus, the University's assertion that 9.3 per cent is a "correct" figure shows not only at best sloppy use of data, but also shows a typical lack of sensitivity to black demands at Harvard and in the world. Were Harvard truly interested in meeting such a quota, moreover, they would acknowledge the necessity of meeting related OBU demands as well: black workers can never compete for available jobs unless job agencies in the black community are given detailed notice of openings at the same time such notice is given to white unions; and unless there is present on site a monitor responsible to the black community many other form of discrimination are bound to occur at the point of hiring or once the worker is on the job.
Lots of thinking and work needs to be done by the University if it is to act responsibly. And it is the black students who are applying the pressure without which at best only token progress will occur. Rights and responsibilities are a two-way street and at present the University wants to take the easy way out of avoiding its own obligations while punishing those who are taking that militant action which apparently is the only thing the University really responds to.
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