Is Merger Relevant Yet?


Strictly speaking, a "merger" between Harvard and Radcliffe would be a legal, corporate affair: Radcliffe would stop paying a fee to Harvard to cover the maintenance of its buildings and the billing of its students; it would sell its property to Harvard; and it would sink its endowment into Harvard's Nothing more.

Technically, therefore, Harvard and Radcliffe students can and do take classes together, live together and play sports under the jurisdiction of the same athletic department, but the result in not merger. By extension, these students could even be admitted by the same office, still without merger. Such a situation might appear bizarre, even foolish, but strictly speaking it is possible.

The corporate decisions which would spell merger can be made at any time. But since last year when Martin Hornier became Radcliffe's president, the word from Fay House has been that no corporate decisions will be made until some other things are cleared up first until Harvard divests itself of conventional myths about women in general and Radcliffe students in particular, and demonstrates more than a lip-service commitment to the women it has been educating since 1943.

This is what is meant when Hornier says that "merger is not the important or relevant issue." And this is what is meant when she and President Bok announce a new committee to study such things as sex blind admissions and women's education, but say in the same breath that the committee is specifically not to concern itself with merger.

Technically this is true, but it is also true that no move towards corporate merger will be forthcoming until questions of admissions, size of the undergraduate body, distribution of students (women) in the departments, and alumni relations are satisfactorily resolved.


Thus this committee does represent--as its chairman, Karl Strauch, professor of Physics, said yesterday--"a first step in reviewing the arrangements made between Harvard and Radcliffe in 1971."

The important thing to many Radcliffe administrators, though, is that the two sides of the merger question--corporate and educational--not be confused.

"My hope is that the philosophical issues can be discussed as such," Alberta B. Arthur, dean of Radcliffe admissions, financial aid and women's education, said last week. "Focusing on economic feasibility of merger leaves out what's best for women and for undergraduate education."

Strauch said that he hopes the committee will begin meeting next term. Its members include administrators, Faculty members, alumni association representatives, and four students who have yet to be chosen by Hornier and Dean Rosovsky.

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