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When there were no undergraduate women at Harvard, not long ago, all of the University's fellowships and prizes naturally went to men.
When Radcliffe students officially became students of the University, they became eligible for most of the University's awards, but not the ones earmarked for students in Harvard College, because the College remained all male.
Daniel Steiner '54, general counsel to the University, is working on a proposal to open up the last male-only awards to women, including the most lucrative and prestigious fellowships Harvard offers. He is treading on soft, uncertain ground, for he is approaching questions of institutional identity.
Harvard is always sensitive to the terms of gifts, construing them broadly, but not too broadly, whenever possible. The broad, penisfree interpretation of the term "men" was necessary three years ago when the first prizes were opened to women.
The term "Harvard College" is not so easy to crack, however. Steiner believes a possibility may lie in the restructuring of certain institutions following the Strauch Report--especially in the merger of the undergraduate admissions offices.
The argument can be made, and Steiner may make it to the governing boards within the next few weeks, that in fact men and women are now being admitted by the same office, according to the same standards, to the same institution. Steiner is also considering the nominal admission of women beginning with the Class of '80 to Harvard College as well as Radcliffe.
The Radcliffe Trustees have consistently opposed total merger, seeking to preserve the identity of Radcliffe College. But one way or another, for Steiner to open up the awards without violating their terms he has to get women into Harvard College. He said last week that he hopes to do so for women in the Class of '76--women who entered Radcliffe College three years ago and who will receive Harvard degrees next spring.
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