Minority Recruitment


To the Editors of The Crimson:

The fundamental issue has been lost in the debate on minority recruitment. Minority recruitment is in the interest of both academic institutions and oppressed groups. Harvard is considered a training ground for leaders who will continue, or at best reform, the present system of social organization. It is in Harvard's best interest to seek out and train promising young people from oppressed groups, for where their talents are cultivated will likely affect whether oppressed people move toward reform or destruction of this social system. Minority recruitment is in the interest of oppressed people for academic training is a valuable tool for fundamental change, reform or plain survival.

There should be no debate. The challenge for minority students is to engage in rational dialogue to clarify that recruitment from oppressed groups serves the University's interest (or that failure to recruit will eventually be detrimental). More important, minority students must thoroughly understand the environment of the University and act on issues of concern in a calculated manner, from a strong base of support within and outside the University.

For the University, the challenge is to understand that maintenance of the present social system depends as much on the nature of leadership in oppressed groups as on leadership in formal institutions and establish procedures to identify the most promising young people. To recognize that criterion used to evaluate advantaged students may obscure the talents of a student who has grown up under oppressive conditions does not lower standards or make exceptions. It acknowledges that different criterion are needed for students from different conditions and allows Harvard to admit and train outstanding young people from all strata of society.

The debate seems to have arisen from emotionalism over what has occured between admissions administrators and minority students, rather than mutually exclusive interests. The conditions that exploded into upheaval in the '60s and necessitated minority recruitment programs have not changed, and energy cannot be wasted in emotional debate. --Adrienne Ingrum