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A group of North House residents will petition Harvard undergraduates this week to oppose sex discrimination against women in the competition for four graduate scholarships totalling $59,500 annually.

The petition claims "a flagrant denial of the rights of women" and seeks to make the individual $3500 awards available to both sexes. The scholarships are presently available only to men.

The scholarships cited in the petition are the MacKenzie King Scholarship (one award annually); the Frank Knox Memorial Fellowships (eight annually), the Henry Russell Shaw Travelling Fellowships (four annually), and the Frederick Sheldon Travelling Fellowship (four annually

A group spokesman--who asked to remain anonymous to emphasize that the petition is a "community effort"--said yesterday the aim of the petition is to solicit favorable student support for opening the scholarships to both sexes.

The scholarships are all endowed by Harvard alumni. Alteration of their terms can only be brought about by court challenge.

John M. Orders, assistant director of the Office for Graduate and Career Plans, said yesterday that the failure of the University to challenge the terms of the scholarships was the result of "the usual bureaucratic slowness and extreme care" that University officials have taken in their considerations of the situation.

Orders said that since last summer the University has been reviewing the deeds of all scholarship gifts and now plans to petition in court to make the funds of the Sheldon scholarship available to both sexes.

Orders said that challenging the King. Knox and Shaw awards might be more difficult. He said that the wills establishing these scholarships raise certain legal problems that could delay or prevent their becoming available to both men and women

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