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THE CONTENTS of the recently released Revised Affirmative Action Plan and Status Report are far from encouraging. While the report does indicate slight improvement in both admissions and hiring in some areas of the University, the overall results are disappointing. And perhaps more importantly, the indication in some areas is that there has been either no advance at all or a decline in minority and female representation.
The continued underrepresentation of females and blacks in the ranks of tenured faculty and the declining percentages of black students in several of the University's graduate schools require more explanation and concern than the University has shown. While federal affirmative action guidelines do not mandate that the University meet its goals, the government requires a demonstration that adequate effort has been made.
To this end, the report deals to a large extent with such efforts, including stepped-up minority recruitment drives and special programs for minority students. Although these efforts are commendable, they apparently have been inadequate. The report indicates that new and more effective programs are necessary and should be among the University's highest priorities.
In addition, even the most positive aspect of the report--the promise that considerable improvement will be made by 1978--is far from heartening. The goals set for 1978 are based on 1970 estimations of availability of women and minorities in the applicant pool; if the affirmative action program had made any progress since its inception, there should have been a tremendous increase in that availability figure over this period. With this in mind, even if Harvard reaches its goals during the next three years, the University will still be underutilizing the applicant pools' true minority and female representations.
The replacement for Walter J. Leonard, the departing affirmative action officer for the University, has a difficult job in store. The next few years will require redoubled efforts on the part of everyone in the University, from administrators to department chairmen to admissions officers. The negative findings of the report must not be ignored or forgotten with Leonard's departure, but must serve to spur on a tremendous effort and a change in attitude if the next report is to be any more encouraging.
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