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Race Relations


AS HE recommended in his report on the Lampoon racial controversy last May, Archie C. Epps III, dean of students, last week announced the creation of a committee on race relations at Harvard College. The interracial student-faculty committee would meet throughout the year to review the nature of race relations at the College and then publish recommendations for action in the spring.

A committee of this sort can be beneficial to everyone at Harvard and is long overdue. While race relations at Harvard are good relative to those at many other colleges, there are still some very unfortunate barriers to free interaction between all students here. A well-conceived committee which has the endorsement of all elements of the Harvard community is bound to do some good, even if only to encourage open discussion and give minority leaders an opportunity to work together.

Unfortunately, the administration has been so vague in defining the purpose and structure of the new committee that minority groups on campus have expressed concern over their representation on the committee and the University's motives in establishing it. Although the leaders of the four principal minority organizations were invited to join the 15-member committee, they were understandably critical that it was not made clear whether they would attend as individuals or as representatives of their organizations. Nor has it been made clear if the committee is only a study group restricted to racial interaction, or whether the group will be able to propose changes in particular areas such as affirmative action programs and admissions policies.

Dean Epps should make explicit his intentions regarding the committee. The committee has great potential, but it can be effective only if all the interested student groups understand its structure and endorse its goals before it begins to meet. Hopefully, both Epps and the minority organizations be patient and accomodate each other's positions so that the Committee on Race Relations can be launched from solid ground.

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