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To the Editors of The Crimson:
On May 2, 1975, the DuBois Institute Student Coalition (DISC) called in a sit-in at Massachusetts Hall. The sit-in was a culmination of many attempts to enter President Bok, Andrew Brimmer, and the DuBois Institute Advisory Board into a dialogue on the DuBois Institute. This letter explains the reason for that sit-in.
In December of 1973, a committee established by President Bok and chaired by his Special Assistant. Walter Leonard, released a proposal on the establishment of the DuBois Institute. This proposal was significant in its failure to mention student involvement in planning. Though the faculty voted on April 22, 1969, "that the Standing Committee on Afro-American Studies shall be expanded to include three students..." (as reported in the transcript of the meeting of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, April 22, 1969) The Standing Committee was charged with the planning of the Institute. As importantly, representation from the Afro-American Studies Department was denied. Although it was earlier recommended that the chair-person of the Afro-American Studies Department serve as a director of the Institute (p. 18, Report of the Faculty. Committee on African and Afro-American Studies, Jan 20, 1969.) This lay the groundwork for the exclusion of students and Afro-American Studies Department faculty from the planning process. In fact, these groups were excluded when President Bok appointed the DuBois Institute Advisory Board in September of 1974
In response to these actions on the part of the Administration, the Harvard-Radcliffe Association of African and Afro-American Students (Afro), the Afro American Studies Department Concentrators. La Organization, the Organization for the Solidarity of Third World Students (OSTWS), the New American Movement (NAM), the February First Movement (FFM) and other concerned students formed the DuBois Institute Student Coalition (DISC) DISC was formed in into September 1974 to ensure student participation in the realization of the DuBois Institute. After three months of indepth research, the Coalition has produced a proposal synthesizing previous proposals made by official university planning groups. The DISC proposal has been endorsed by the North. South and Currier House Committees, Education for Action, the Radcliffe-Harvard Women's Center, the Freshman Council and Phillips Brooks House. The Student Caucus of the CHUL endorsed the need for student participation in the planning process.
On February 10, the DISC proposal was sent to President Bok. Prof. Andrew Brimmer, and members of the Advisory Board. At that time, meetings with the Advisory Board were requested. Verbal and written requests were made for an appointment with President Bok via the Massachusetts Hall receptionist. Not one of these requests was answered. Later attempts were made to meet with the Advisory Board; these were also refused, DISC representatives communicated with Advisory Board members individually, until this line of communication was cut when Prof. Brimmer asked the members of the Board to retrain from making official statements concerning the workings of the Board.
To students aware of the Bok Administration's handling of the development of the DuBois Institute, two facts were clear: (1) that the University would continue to ignore attempts at communication, and (2) that the University would continue to break promises made since 1969. In light of this it was felt that non-violent direct action was the only recourse Hence, the sit-in on May 2.
After three months the University seems to have agreed to open dialogue. Student input at this time is crucial. The onus now rests on the Administration to make that dialogue meaningful to seriously considering the DISC proposal. Patay Fath Davis H.R. Afro David Cortiella La Organization Vivian M. Morria Feb First Movement Bruce A. Jacobs DISC spokesperson Peter A.D. Hardle Afro Dept. Concentrators William G. Fletcher Jr. OSTWS Laura M. Burns NAM
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