TODAY 1393 members of the Class of 1972 will receive their Harvard diplomas, among them 275 Radcliffe women. For the second year in a row, both women and men will be participating in a dignified protest asking equal admissions to Harvard. We fully support them in this demand once again, and urge the Harvard administration to consider seriously the issues raised.
We further urge our classmates and friends, alumni and alumnae to recognize the crucial importance of the question of women at Harvard and to support the protest by wearing the silkscreened armbands and emblems that have been distributed during the past week.
It should not be necessary to reiterate that Harvard must accept more women; to continue the present quota system is to maintain that one half of humanity is less worthy of receiving an education than the other. Although President Bok has agreed to increase the size of each Radcliffe class to 450--a 2.5 to 1 ratio--he has made no public commitment to equal admissions. In addition, Harvard lobbied against Rep. Edith Green's equal admissions bill in Congress last fall. Thus, though ostensibly improving the admission picture on behalf of women, actually, the Bok administration is holding the traditional Harvard line. Harvard has a duty to provide the nation with leaders and assumes that these leaders will not be women.
An attitude like this is difficult to combat. If Harvard's goal is to turn out leaders for a society which discriminates against women, must Harvard then discriminate against women? Much more appropriate, it would seem--particularly for an institution which prides itself on the quality of its education--would be an attempt to effect some change on society's imbalances.
OVER THE PAST year, the new Administration has publicized changes favorable to women which are, in fact, token gestures, conciliatory but not committed to equality. The 4-to-1 ratio has been replaced by the promise of a 2.5-to-1 ratio, but real dedication to an equal admissions policy still does not seem part of Harvard's picture of its future. Women are still treated as second class scholars at every level of the University. Though several women faculty members have been appointed this year, they will still account for only 1.9 per cent of all tenured appointments. Most of the women teachers in the University are clustered around the off-ladder positions which seldom lead to professional advancement.
For more than a year, the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW) has been after Harvard to submit a plan to correct discrimination in its employment practices. Excluding the plan presently under consideration by HEW, Harvard's three other proposals have all been rejected. HEW accused the University of a lack of good faith, because Harvard has failed to include specific goals and time-tables for the equal employment of women within the University.
This year, the Permanent Committee on Women was supposed to be the guardian of women's interests at Harvard and Radcliffe. It was to ensure that "the uttering of pious generalities (would not be) substituted for serious efforts" on behalf of women. But without legitimate power, the Committee has proved largely ineffectual.
The newly appointed President and Dean of Radcliffe, Matina Horner, could well be a more powerful voice for women in the University than was the Permanent Committee. From her perspective as a psychologist with a keen interest in feminine motivation and achievement, she comes to her office with a special sensitivity to the problems facing women at Harvard and Radcliffe. We hope she will combine the power of her office with her own interest in women to become a successful representative for all of us fighting for full equality for women in the University.
HARVARD has a responsibility to initiate change. If Harvard is going to maintain its own image as a leader, it cannot placidly reflect the social definitions of our society. It will fail in its traditional role as an educational innovator if it does.
The question of equal admissions finally becomes a simple one: are women as worthy of receiving an education as men or are they not? If Harvard agrees that they are, then there is no excuse for postponing the institution of a one-to-one ratio any longer. If Harvard decides that they are not, then the future of Harvard as a principled insititution is doomed.