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Alumni Bulletin

From the Shelf

By Michael E. Kinsley

IN CASE you've been trapped in a salt mine for the past six weeks, the best complete account of "The Events of April" can be found in the current Harvard Alumni Bulletin. But don't leave the salt behind.

Chronologically, with little editorializing except by exclusion, editor John T. Bethell '54 dangles our little adventure in front of the horrified old alums, tantalizing them with detail--from before the occupation ("The handwriting was on the wall, but to most of the University community, the seizure of a building was a shock.") up to the last cliffhanger close ("Said one [SDS] member ... "We have to realize that we will have to do something very militant to win our demands--something very damaging to the Corporation.'").

The Alumni Bulletin knows its audience. Bethell dwells on appearances, knowing what will excite his readers. The SDS flag flies out a University Hall window; Chase Peterson eats lunch at the Tasty (fine man!); Dean Ford's 4:30 p.m. warning is met with cries of "All right, Dean Ford"; four picture show (gasp) litter all over the floor of the empty building after the bust. The inflammatory quote. "Bullshit," shouted a girl. "What the fuck do you know about it?" said a girl. (A girl!) "Fuck Harvard." (Harvard!!)

The strike issue exemplifies the new, revamped Bulltein--or Harvard, as Bethell calls it--which was unveiled last fall. Harvard has, says Bethell, "no official connection with Harvard University." It operates out of four rooms in Wadsworth House which, presumably, it occupied by force. Though most of the changes are superficial--new format, new schedule (tri-weekly), even a new Harvard seal )see picture)--the mod flavor extends to the writing, which is lively, and the subject matter, which is pertinent.

For example, the article this year that, until the occupation, stirred the most controversy among readers was a short sermon by John Kenneth Galbraith on the need for restructuring at Harvard. ("The experience of Columbia is there for all to read.") More scandalous was a December 2 cover reproducing the Truc poster of a bare-assed lady milking a unicorn. (One reader suggested an apt place for the Harvard-Yale game scores.) Other articles have been about the international student movement and Dr. Timothy Leary. One issue included an almost complete reprint of the Wilson Report.

Harvard is still aimed primarily at alumni. There is still "The College Pump," written by someone named Primus IV, and still "Harvardiana." There are still the special offers (a set of bronze John Harvard bookends, a coffee table with the Seal in the middle), and the alumni notes and obituaries (which are set in two different typestyles so you can tell them apart).

Bethell scores the CRIMSON for "coloring the community's opinion." "The events of April showed," he says in his Analysis, "an urgent need for an apolitical, factual news publication, edited for the entire community." Meanwhile, he makes do by crediting his facts to the CRIMSON three times in the first two pages of his article.

In a time of crisis, the daily newspaper is at a disadvantage. Harvard indeed provided a few details in its strike coverage that were overlooked by the other local disseminators of information. Such things as the strange odyssey of Dean Peterson through those days, looking for someone to talk to; what was being played on the stereo blasting from Weld Hall; the attendance of Deans Watson and Glimp at the police briefing before the bust; the fact that, as lines waiting to board paddy wagons got longer, police let thirty or forty demonstrators go; the disappearance of Dean Ford's favorite pipe.

AT 75 CENTS a copy, Harvard is not a magazine for the masses. It is intended to show alumni and other educated outsiders what is going on within the Harvard community. For those involved in the day-to-day running, changing, or destroying of this place, it can provide a fascinating overview of how your little contribution fits into the entire organism as seen from Wadsworth. House and points west (don't miss the letters column).

Searching the newsstands for a copy, you will discover that Harvard has fallen prey to the visual cliche of the month and put the red fist on its cover. But for all its snazziness, you should have no trouble distinguishing Harvard from The Old Mole.

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