Errors of Admissions

Maybe justice is blind. Although the Supreme Court singled out Harvard's undergraduate admissions process for special praise in last summer's Bakke decision, the Medical School's undergraduate admissions process now seems to be on uncertain legal ground.

In September, against the advice of Daniel Steiner '54, general counsel to the University, the Med School faculty voted to keep its present admissions plan until next spring. In May, a review committee will report the results of a year-long study of minority admissions.

Steiner, however, won't take no for an answer. He maintains that there is "clearly a vulnerability" to suits in present admissions practices, and that it would be "unwise" fro the University not to make changes.

Under the present system, a minority admissions subcommittee interviews minority students, reviews their applications and sends a ranked list to the central admissions committee. The central committee makes final selections, and members of this committee and other subcommittees may also review the applications.

Although he will not specify what is wrong with the present set-up Steiner believes the Medical School's admissions process must be revised this year to increase "merged competition" between minority students and other applicants.


Steiner, backed up by President Bok and Archibald Cox '34, Wilston Professor of Law, convinced Dean Daniel C. Tosteson '48 to appoint an ad hoc committee to make changes in the minority admission committee, which will study in effect until the year-long study is completed.

At separate meetings of the faculty and the student body, Tosteson reaffirmed his personal commitment to a strong minority admissions committee, but said the risk of suit made changes necessary.

Some student groups--organized in the Third World Caucus, a coalition supporting a strong minority admissions program--find the administration's proposals hard to accept.

The minority community is "continually asked to rely on good will instead of a workable, assured process," Stanley Reed, a caucus spokesman, said.