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The University became embroiled this week in the continuing--and seemingly irreconcilable--controversy between two Harvard groups with radically different orientations, the Lampoon and the Harvard-Radcliffe Black Students' Association.
The black students group decided to bring the University into the fray Thursday morning, when they filed a 500-signature petition with Archie C. Epps III, dean of students, condemning the Lampoon for "racially offensive" material and asking the University to take a position on the controversy, and to consider banning the magazine on campus.
The filling of the petition came as something of a surprise to the Lampoon, since both groups had tentatively approved a Lampoon statement in a series of meetings last week between the executive boards of both organizations.
The black students rejected the statement at a meeting Wednesday largely because it did not contain a Lampoon apology for the material in question.
"It is incumbent on the Lampoon to meet these issues with greater sensitivity. That they have not, we find unacceptable," a statement released Wednesday night by the group said.
Lampoon editors say they ommited an apology because the material is "justifiable in context," as Steven G. Crist '78, Lampoon publisher, put it last week. More important, the Lampoon board believes that its editorial freedom could be endangered by the black group's protest.
Dean Epps, suddenly at the center of a touchy controversy, said he will consider the questionable material statements by both organizations before attempting to effect an informal settlement.
If this approach fails, Epps said he may "seek guidance" from the Committee on Houses and Undergraduate Life on "what an appropriate step would be."
"There are important principles involved on both sides. It's an extremely delicate situation," Epps said.
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