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The History of Harvard's Commencement, Explained
THE FOUNDATION to improve race relations at Harvard is no longer a proposal; it is now a fact. Several details remain to be hammered out, but its appearance only one year after a committee was formed to investigate the possibilities of a campus Third World center is remarkable by Harvard's clock, which often runs on Glacial Standard Time.
We have long advocated some kind of Third World center on campus, to provide a support system for minority students who have legitimate needs that have gone unmet. We can understand the sense of betrayal Third World students felt when the Foundation turned out to be something significantly different than they had intended. After all, it was student protest that prompted the formation of the investigatory committee in the first place.
But we should all set aside differences of opinion and give the Foundation a chance. The burden of the Foundation's success must not fall entirely on the shoulders of Third World students. Majority students must make an effort to explore the possibilities of the Foundation, and administrators and Faculty must make a commitment to sufficient funds and participation. Giving the Foundation an accessible and permanent home would be a good start toward that end. The long-run goal of the Foundation and, we hope, all related Harvard actions, is better face relations, and that is both admirable and necessary if the University's much-vaunted goal of "diversity" is to be meaningful.
We also hope that S. Allen Counter, the new head of the Foundation, will place appropriate weight on the particular needs of minority students. The Foundation is now open-ended: its success will depend on Counter's ability to mobilize support from the whole community and to come up with creative programming. The most significant finding of last year's committee was that Third World students often experience alienation, and Counter should keep that in mind as he forges ahead.
We wish Counter and others involved with this ambitious project well. Right now, the Foundation is described by administrators as a "nothing-to-lose" proposition. If that label persists, the Foundation could soon become a "nothing-to-gain" proposition. It would benefit the entire community if the Foundation--and all efforts at enhanced racial harmony here--were to thrive.
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