An End To Rubber Stamps?


The federal government will begin a compliance review of Harvard's Affirmative Action program next week, and the Harvard-Radcliffe Task Force on Affirmative Action this week took steps to insure that the federal officials do more than put a rubber stamp on the existing program.

However, John G. Bynoe, director of the Department of Health, Education and Welfare (HEW) office that will conduct the review, said this week that the officials will attempt to be fair with Harvard and help the University "find its way" rather than use its clout to force Harvard to make immediate drastic reforms.

In its drive for a thorough compliance scrutiny, the task force on Monday submitted to Bynoe, the head of HEW's Office of Civil Rights (OCR), a 20-page analysis of alleged University-wide non-compliance with guidelines set out in the 1975 Harvard Affirmative Action Plan.

The report, which the group calls a "general allegation of patterns of discrimination" at Harvard, cites examples of alleged foot-dragging on affirmative action in 18 departments of the Faculty, the Medical School, the Business School, the School of Public Health and the personnel office.

"We sent this analysis to HEW to give them some direction as to where to look for violations of the affirmative action guidelines," a spokesman for the Task Force said this week.


Furthermore, members of the task force followed this initial contact with HEW with a meeting on Wednesday to discuss the allegations with the three OCR officials who will conduct the review.

"The OCR officials seemed to agree with the analysis that the University has used understated figures of women and minority group members available for hiring," one task force member who attended the meeting said this week. "They seemed to consider our report of significant value," he said.

But Bynoe suggested that OCR is not interested in putting too much pressure on Harvard or to fulfill a punitive role.

While Bynoe said "it wouldn't make sense to ignore the information about different departments given in the analysis, since it will help us ask specific questions," he added that OCR officials are particularly concerned with its mandate to give Harvard technical assistance with affirmative action.

"We could give hell to the departments, to the overseer and to everybody about figures," Bynoe said. "But right now we really want to make sure that hiring managers at Harvard have the right attitude about what changes have to be brought about."

The task force also announced this week it will sponsor a rally on Monday, the first day of the compliance review, to protest University discrimination against women and minority group members.