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Non-Politics at Radcliffe Institute


By Joyce Heard

As the Center for International Affairs was being ransacked a few blocks away, 250 women and a handful of men, including an as-yet-oblivious President Bok, were chatting and downing cocktails. The group was busy warming up for the final dinner of a two-day women's conference sponsored by the Radcliffe Institute on the subject, "Women: Resource for a Changing World."

The large majority of those attending the conference were professional women or women with academic careers. The series of panels and discussions was geared toward this audience, all of whom were there by invitation.

Elizabeth Cless, the conference moderator, stressed in her opening remarks that "the conference is in no sense a call for political action." "This is a scholarly conference and we hope to provide each woman with resources to use on her chosen path," she said.

Although the conference stressed social perspectives on women--with an eye to using conference resources as a "springboard for action," according to the prospectus--many women were dissatisfied with the uncommitted attitude which pervaded the conference.

For instance, when two women proposed that the conference adopt a resolution to President Nixon condemning the latest escalation of the war, Cless told them that such an action would be better taken on an individual basis and suggested they set up a petition table outside the conference hall.

The conference was also planned as a tribute to outgoing Radcliffe President Mary I. Bunting, who retires at the end of this year. Bunting received a standing ovation for her speech which outlined the history of the Radcliffe Institute, and suggested that the University become more open to use by the community.

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