The Gomes Committee report recommending the establishment of a campus "foundation" to improve race relations received cautious approval from most quarters this week, but serious reservations remain.
The Rev. Peter J. Gomes, who chaired the nine-member student-faculty committee, said before embarking last week on a spring sabbatical that he expects sharp scrutiny--if not opposition--from both students and faculty.
The committee's deliberations, conducted over the last six months, was a process of paradoxes. Once the group determined that minority students have legitimate needs unmet by existing institutions, the logistical problem became sticky: how to forward a proposal satisfying those who originally called for a Third World center without disaffecting those who opposed the idea of a center altogether.
The committee settled this conflict by focusing on improved race relations rather than the private interests of Third World students, symbolically shunning the term "Third World center."
Predictably, the undergraduate Third World Center Organization supported what it called the proposal's "material concessions" but criticized the stress on race relations over minority students' particular interests.
The organization objected to the proposal's failure to address minority faculty hiring and minority admissions, two issues deemed vital by Third World students.
The governance and funding portion of the report has also been greeted with disapproval by some Third World students, particularly undergraduate political organizations.
While the report stipulates that the Faculty and University pay for maintenance and administrative salaries, groups such as the Black Students Association will still have to finance their own activities and programs--Malcom X weekend and freshman orientation providing two prominent examples.
Although these organizations are not completely excluded from governance of the proposed foundation, their position in running it remains uncertain and tentative.
Nancy P. Randolph, special assistant to President Bok for affirmative action and a member of the committee, declined to comment on minority students' complaints this week. Bok himself referred the report to the Faculty, which will probably debate the proposal--even though no Faculty vote is required for the foundation's establishment--sometime before spring break.
While Bok postponed detailed comment on the proposal until after the Faculty considers it, he will soon issue comment of another kind. He is currently working on the sixth in his series of open letters to the community--this one on the status of minority students and faculty at Harvard.