Black Guide Cites Campus Tensions

Harvard's "predominantly white atmosphere" fosters "some tensions" for Black students, a guide to the nation's colleges for Blacks concludes.

The catalog, compiled by a Brown University professor and Brown students, drew national attention yesterday for what some news reports called its criticisms of several of the nation's most prestigious schools.

Describing Harvard as "the oldest, richest and perhaps the most prestigious college in the nation," the guide states that Harvard "is noted for not only its extremely high academic demands but also for its impersonal nature."

Harvard officials yesterday responded that the survey of the University's racial climate is incomplete, while reaction from members of minority student organizations was mixed.

"The write-up presented a fairly balanced view of the College for minority students," Mack I. Davis, assistant dean of the College, said. Davis and other Harvard officials, however, criticized the guide's editors for failing to note the existence of the University's race relations Foundation.


Black Students Association President Curtis M. Hairson '84 said yesterday that "in general, the report is pretty fair" and declined comment on the specifics of the guide's description of Harvard.

But Hairston said in response to a question about College officials' reaction to the guide's evaluation. "If the administration has problems with some of the criticisms...then it should take steps to correct the situation."

The editor of the "Black Student's Guide to Colleges" said yesterday that the catalog, which describes the academic and social climates of 114 U.S. colleges, will be distributed nationally later this month.

In its 1000-word description of Harvard, the guide reports that the College's 730-member Faculty includes 12 Blacks.

On the issue of racial tension, the guide states. "Some Black students interact with whites as little as possible." Yet it also said that a significant number of Harvard's Black students do wish to "deal with people on a basis broader than color."

Harvard originally declined to cooperate with researchers of the guide, but decided in July to supply statistics on minority students, alumni, Faculty, and financial aid.

Dean of the College John B. Fox Jr. '59 said the guide's evaluation was incomplete because it failed to mention the race relations Foundation.

The guide states only that "students have been working toward establishing a Third World Cultural Center."

In 1981, the University rejected minority students' demands for a Third World center and instead adopted a plan for the race relations Foundation, which currently operates on an annual budget of $20,000.

The editor of the Black student's guide, Brown University English Professor Barry Beckham, said the guide's staff had decided the Foundation "wasn't really that big a thing" because Harvard officials had failed to emphasize it.