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The system's the solution
After months of debating, the Class of '80 voted to end a seven-year student boycott of the Committee on Rights and Responsibilities (CRR), which disciplines students charged with disrupting the College for political reasons.
The freshmen agree with the boycott-supporters that the CRR does not afford due process to students on trial, but argue that it can best be reformed from within. As a result of their decision, four students will join the committee when it next meets.
Laissez-faire seems a weird justification for quotas, but that's Harvard's reason for filing an amicus curiae ('friend of the court') brief in a Supreme Court appeal by a California state medical school that has been convicted of discriminating against whites by reserving 16 places for minority group members in a class of 100 members.
Harvard will argue that if the government wants universities to correct social inequities, then it can't quibble with the means the schools use to increase the number of minority graduates.
The Harvard-Radcliffe Black Students Association (HRBSA) charged the Lampoon this spring with featuring "tasteless" characterizations of blacks in recent issues, including a recent cover picture of a black man shining the shoes of the statue of John Harvard in the Yard. The Lampoon editors argued that its use of stereotypes was meant to poke fun at the characterizations rather than to lend credence to them, but HRBSA was not satisfied with the explanation and took the issue to Archie C. Epps III, dean of students.
After a series of meetings with officials of both organizations, Epps reported that the use of stereotypes probably did not improve race relations at the College, and announced he will set up a committee on race relations here next fall.
The most recent issue of the Lampoon parodied technology.
For as long as anyone can remember--or at least ever since the first rumors of economic crisis in the early '70s--Economics 10, "Principles of Economics," has been the most popular course in the College, and this year was no different.
Serious conflicts within the History Department emerged this spring, centering on the easy access of tenured American history faculty members to substantial stipends from the income of the well-endowed Charles Warren Center for Studies in American History.
The split may have played a role in persuading David S. Landes, Goelet Professor of French History and one of the world's foremost European economic historians, to switch from History to the Economics Department.
Off again, on again
The program on women's studies at the Divinity School, the only such program in the entire University, was threatened with closure next year, when the Divinity School decided its financial state would force it to let the untenured women's studies teachers go. The school received funds from an undisclosed source, however, and the program is on again. Thank God.
The Government Department has gotten a widespread reputation for tough grading--in part because of the outspoken stance of its chairman, Harvey C. Mansfield Jr. '53, against creeping grade inflation--and last fall the department took a step to ease the burden on its concentrators. Mansfield wrote a cover letter to graduate schools explaining that Gov majors might have lower grades than the rest of the College, but that it wasn't necessarily their fault.
The Faculty Council took steps this spring to end inequities in grading, but did not do anything about grade inflation, that awful specter.
After a two-year struggle--during which the Government Department voted to tenure Doris Kearns Goodwin on the basis of her manuscript and then split its vote when the final product, the bestselling "Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream" appeared--the Harvard Governing Boards resolved the issue temporarily by appointing her to the highly unusual position of professor of Government without tenure.
Kearns now has three years in which to work on a second book before she is reconsidered for tenure. But if she's unsatisfied, Kearns has a lot of options, it seems. She declined an offer to head President Carter's Peace Corps office, and this spring Kearns has been discussing the possibility of teaching at UMass. As of June 1, though, the untenured professor is not moving.
An embarrassing biologist
In another widely-publicized tenure decision, President Bok overruled the near-unanimous vote of the Biology Department to give Robert L. Trivers '65 a tenured slot. Bok apparently felt that Trivers's work, which provided some of the foundations for sociobiology, was too controversial to ensure his presence would not embarrass Harvard.
The China hand
Ross G. Terrill, associate professor of Government and one of the world's foremost authorities on modern China, also did not receive tenure this year. Apparently, the department felt it had enough distinguished Sinologists, and anyway Terrill's activities were considered so interdisciplinary--and perhaps too journalistic--for one single department.
"Separate but equal" became the issue last fall when Ruth Hubbard '45, professor of Biology, allowed her Currier House seminar on women's issues in biology to restrict itself to women students.
The three male students who attended the first session said they agreed with that consensus, which was based in part on the women's superior background in feminist literature, but the case became a University issue anyway.
The Faculty Council finally ruled in November that there was no point in taking action on the Currier House case so late in the semester, but it reaffirmed its policy that no class shall be restricted on the basis of sex, race or religion--essentially reiterating federal anti-discrimination guidelines.
Beginning with the Class of '79, Social Studies concentrators will be unable to graduate without writing a thesis. It only has to be 40 pages.
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