No More Nights At the Forum


To celebrate last year's Radcliffe Centennial, students and Faculty staged a show, "Where's Radcliffe?," designed to illustrate Radcliffe's purpose after its merger with Harvard. This year, after the Radcliffe Board of Trustees eliminated the Radcliffe Forum--an office sponsoring seminars, speeches and grants for and about women--they found themselves answering that question, but this time to a less sympathetic audience.

The forum staff, and many students and Faculty called President Horner's decision to close the office a political move, aimed at discouraging a view held by some forum members that the office should advocate women's concerns, not just coordinate programs. Many student and Faculty feminists claimed the closed forum marked the end of a commitment to women's issues at Harvard-Radcliffe.

But members of the Radcliffe Board downplayed the symbolic significance of the closed forum, claiming the decision was simply a financial necessity.

The trustees argued that eliminating the Forum would save the college $300,000. Since Radcliffe does not receive funds from its students, the Trustees said the College needed the money to protect its endowment.

Burton I. Wolfman, administrative dean of Radcliffe, argued that the forum's closing indicated that the College's priorities lie with the undergraduates and not "generically with the women's movement."

Women's groups on campus bitterly protested Wolfman's view, asserting that Radcliffe should offer a place where feminists can meet and share ideas. "The forum was the only place at the University where women graduate students as feminists got support," Cynthia Dahlin, a Kennedy School student, said.

At an April 10 meeting of the Trustees, over 50 protesters gathered in Radcliffe Yard to show their support of the Forum.

Despite the efforts of women's groups to reverse the Board's ruling, Horner maintained that her decision was final. She said, however, that the programs run by the forum would continue, administered next year by a new dean, not yet hired.

Meanwhile, to fill the void feminist leaders believe the forum's elimination has created, these women have formed the Feminist Alliance and got official University recognition. See Section 3