A recent $20,000 alumni donation to Eliot House has touched off a dispute among House masters concerning the policy of Houses accepting large gifts of money.
Some masters said yesterday that prior to the Bok administration, an informal University-wide policy prohibited the masters from either soliciting or accepting large alumni contributions. Instead, alumni were encouraged to make unrestricted gifts to the College.
But the Bok administration apparently was unaware of this informal agreement. Dean Rosovsky said last night he did not know of the policy, and that as far as he knew, President Bok also was unaware of it.
The masters passed a resolution last Wednesday notifying Bok of the policy, and urging him to state his position. Although the masters declined to reveal the specific nature of the resolution, well-informed sources characterized the statement's main points.
The sources said the masters were concerned that:
* older, more established Houses can obtain more money through alumni solicitation more easily than newer Houses because they have wealthier alumni.
* alumni contributions to individual Houses will result in a further imbalance between the Houses, at a time when the administration is attempting to equalize the facilities offered by each House.
* the announcement last week of the $20,000 Eliot House gift--earmarked for a new program in the performing and creative arts--encouraged freshmen to apply to Eliot House. The masters said the gift gave Eliot an unfair advantage as the Houses strive to make all the Houses equally attractive to freshman applicants.
Freshmen contacted by The Crimson last night said that they did not know of anyone who applied to Eliot House solely because of the new arts program. They did say, however, that Eliot House applicants considered the arts program "a definite plus" in Eliot's favor.
The issue first arose when Eliot House announced that Allan J. Newmark '50, a House alumnus, had contributed approximately $20,000 to Eliot House.
The sources said that Newmark told Bok he would donate money to Eliot, but not to the College. Bok, unaware of the old policy prohibiting such gifts, accepted Newmark's offer, the sources said.
Zeph Stewart, master of Lowell House, said yesterday that there was no reason Bok or Rosovsky, both in office less than three years, should know of the policy. He said that Newmark's offer was the first large gift to a House since Bok took office in June 1971, so "the situation never came up."
Bok met with Stewart on Friday to discuss the resolution. Although Stewart declined to talk about the conversation, the sources said Bok suggested that the masters, the administration and the development office should meet to formulate the policy on House gifts.
Bok also told Stewart that he would try to raise money for all the Houses to equal the Newmark gift.
The masters did not learn of the Newmark gift until Eliot House announced it last week. Stewart said Alan Heimert '49, master of Eliot House, may not have known of the old policy against accepting large gifts, and therefore did not discuss it with the masters.
Heimert and Bok were in Miami yesterday at an alumni function, and could not be reached for comment.
James Vorenberg '49, master of Dunster House, said yesterday he thought it was "sad and ironic" that Eliot House obtained a large gift when the Radcliffe Houses needed additional facilities more than Eliot