Third World Report Stirs Criticism

A progress report prepared by the chairman of the Faculty committee on the Third World center has prompted sharp criticism from undergraduates who contend that the preliminary proposals do not represent the best interests of minority students.

Three Models

The report, written by Rev. Peter J. Gomes, Plummer Professor of Christian Morals and chairman of the committee, suggests three possible models for a Third World center:

The "cultural center model," which the report describes as a "combined equivalent of Phillips Brooks House and a College House" for Third World students;

"The Institute of Politics model," which the report says "could operate out of an office or even someone's room," given clerical support;


And "the Education for Action model," which the report views as a clearinghouse that would "coordinate and support" the programs of other Third World campus organizations "without causing them to lose their identities or submerge their special interests under the hegemony of a new organization."

Lydia A. Jackson '82, president of the Black Students Association and a student member of the committee over the summer, yesterday said the committee has not sufficiently focused on the concrete details of setting up a Third World center.

"While we realize it is necessary to examine existing facilities, services and broader issues, this committee was designed to look into a facility for a Third World center on campus--and it hasn't done that," Jackson said, adding that each of the three models mentioned in the report is unsatisfactory.

Jackson said students take particular exception to a sentence in the progress report stating that although the committee was formed in response to student demands for a Third World center, "that proposal, as such, is the stimulus rather than the substance of our conversation."

Archie C. Epps III, dean of students, and a member of the committee said yesterday, "We're trying to keep an open mind--we're not near any conclusion," and declined to comment further. Gomes was unavailable for comment yesterday. The committee, formed by President Bok last spring in the wake of student protest, met six times over the summer and interviewed several University administrators. The committee will discuss the progress report at its meeting Thursday.

Jackson said the committee "will be made well aware of student response to the preliminary recommendations," but declined to comment on possible protests.

The report says the initial proposal made by undergraduates last spring before Bok formed the committee is too broad. "Even if money and governance were not the serious issues they are, the (original) proposal lacks a sufficient focus to sustain the energies of its most faithful adherents," the report adds.

Empirical Logic

In addition, the report lists 11 issues identified by the committee over the summer and gives preliminary responses to nine of them. The report says "it is not logical" to expect that if the University provides funding, it would remove itself from the area of governance of a Third World center.

"Our own past history with the Afro-American Cultural Center suggests that more rather than less administrative involvement with the project would be helpful, always mindful of the delicate line between involement and control," the report states.

Other preliminary conclusions listed in the report include:

Harvard's House system is perceived by Third World students as inadequate in meeting the needs of minorities;

The present Third World student organizations lack funding and a sense of commitment from the University to their needs;

And, "It has not yet been proven that existing services are inappropriate or non-congenial" to the needs of Third World students