PRESIDENT BOK said some interesting things last Wednesday to the 15 people at the Harvard Republican Club.
"The question becomes whether the Consitution applies to a private institution like Harvard," Bok informed Republicans who asked what passage of the Equal Rights Amendment would do to Harvard's policy of admitting fewer women than men. "How much of a nexus with the government do you need to become an instrumentality of the state?"
It's a good question. Of course, in the past Bok and his friends have usually responded to it with cries that it questions the very foundations of a free and independent university. Two years ago, when black students suggested that the payments to Portugal of a company Harvard owned stock in made Harvard an instrumentality of the Portuguese state, Bok said concerns like theirs could mean "virtually retiring to a desert island." For year Bok has ignored questions about what he called the "symbiotic" relationship between Cambridge and Washington, in which professors turn into bureaucrats and back so fast you can't tell the players without a scorecard. Wasn't the Government Department's holding a chair for Henry a. Kissinger '50 for four years so he could supervise the Indochina war evidence of an important nexus? What about Bok's on-and-off commitment to a program of training officers for the state's Army? Or, the development in Harvard labs and offices of napalm and a theory of "forced-draft urbanization"--bombing villagers until they moved to cities where Thieu's cops could beat up the ones they didn't like? Was that enough of a nexus with the government to make Harvard an instrumentality of the state?
Bok's views on these issues would be interesting, and he should keep his nexus in mind. After all, there's more joy in heaven for one sinner who repents than for 99 who were right all along.