Caps and Gowns


To the Editors of the Crimson:

On March 31, 1980, Coop General Manager James Argeros announced that the Coop would offer an alternate cap and gown rather than boycott those of Cotrell & Leonard. The International Ladies Garment Workers' Union had brought the issue to Argeros' attention last October in a letter informing him of the horrendous working conditions at Cotrell & Leonard and of a National Labor Relations Board's complaint against this company (for unfair labor practices). Five months later, Argeros finally responded--but not with the boycott requested by the ILGWU and by some Harvard students. He resolved instead that the Coop would provide an alternate, thereby allowing each individual a choice of which cap and gown to order. Yet, the Coop's recent actions indicate that the Coop is not truly committed to presenting individuals with a choice, but rather, is still supporting Cotrell & Leonard.

First, the Coop has provided either inadequate of inaccurate information to individuals who were ordering their caps and gowns. The Coop's salespeople have often failed to mention the reasons for offering an alternate. Moreover, when pressed to present these reasons, salespeople have been unable to do so. Thus, the Coop, which supposedly desired that students have a choice, has not fulfilled its responsibility of explaining to students what that choice is. This responsibility is not extraordinary. After all, salespeople are expected to know the products they sell. They should most certainly be informed about the difference between the alternate and the Cotrell & Leonard cap and gown.

Students have repeatedly informed Argeros of his salesforce's inaccurate statements. Yet, he remains unconcerned. Further, by prohibiting information about the alternate cap and gown from being placed in the Coop, Argeros blocked efforts to compensate for the Coop's misstatements.

Second, Argeros has furnished misleading information to the public. In the April 11 Crimson, he refers to the NLRB's complaint against Cotrell & Leonard as "charges and allegations." Argeros' remark suggests that the case against Cotrell & Leonard rests on unfounded claims rather than on the findings of an NLRB investigation. Such remarks prejudice the uniformed against the alternate gown.


Third, the Coop has openly abandoned its neutral position on the issue by encouraging students to purchase Cotrell & Leonard gowns. The most fiagrant example of this was in the April 11 Crimson, in which Argeros called the class committee's unanimous decision to recommend a boycott of Cotrell & Leonard "unfortunate." Argeros acted most improperly in commenting on this, or any other, decision regarding which cap and gown to order. If the Coop really intends to offer students a choice, then it should not prejudice this choice by such public comments. Mr. Argeros has revealed his pro-Cotrell & Leonard bias. How did this bias influence the Coop's refusal to boycott Cotrell & Leonard? Dave Shryock   Ad Hoc Committee on Caps and Gowns

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