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THE BEST NEWS about affirmative action this year was not that Harvard has met or is close to meeting its far too modest hiring goals for minorities and women, but that a group of students decided to band together to show the uglier side of the University's program. In forming the task force for affirmative action, twelve student groups took upon themselves a job they felt Harvard and the Boston Office of Civil Rights were performing inadequately--ending Harvard's alleged discriminatory practices and setting the University on a path of better faith and more liberal hiring projections.
Harvard has made far from impressive progress in increasing its representation of women and minorities. The tenured faculty here is still 92 per cent white and male, and minorities and women are still represented in greatest proportion in the lowest paying jobs.
So while the University is publicly patting itself on the back, issuing favorable statements, as the Faculty has recently, about the progress made, a tremendous amount remains to be done. As the in-house promotion of Dean Whitlock indicates, beneath the University's liberal facade, administrators are doing the minimum rather than going out of their way--as affirmative action demands they do--to act in better faith.
No student group, however, should take on this responsibility alone. Lacking funds, student support and student interest, the task force has had to move slowly toward its goal. And the real tragedy lies in the fact that this ought not to be the task of students at all. The University must push itself toward more willing and fuller compliance by changing its attitude toward increasing minority and female representation. And if Harvard continues to refuse to make this change, it is the responsibility of the Office of Civil Rights to force compliance with federal guidelines.
The task force is to be applauded for its efforts, and the University and the government officers seriously criticized for forcing students to assume their mandated responsibilities.
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