An Agenda for the Year

Looking Ahead: Action Needed

IT ISN'T EVERY campus development that sends the national press running to Harvard. The Law School's minority concerns, the admissions office's worrisome yield, the Corporation's investment dilemmas and the faculty's sexual harassment problem are only the most salient of the issues currently facing parts of the Harvard community. Here are some others.

* The University and nuclear arms: Harvard officials had little to say about the nuclear arms race while opposition to increased defense spending was reaching a crescendo last winter and early last spring. But in his Commencement address. President Bok outlined a new mission for the University's professors: to help guide debate by making their work on the subject more widely available. As a result of the President's personal drive, five professors are now writing a book on related issues.

The leadership role Bok has assumed on this most crucial of issues is very welcome and should lead to an increased outspokenness on the President's part on both University and international concerns. Harvard should also examine its own ambiguous role in defense related research.

* The Corporation's new member: Colman M. Mockler Jr. '52, chairman and chief executive officer of the Gillette Co., was tapped in June to fill the vacancy on the Harvard Corporation, the seven-member Harvard equivalent of a governing board. The choice came as no surprise, for Mockler is in many ways just like the Corporation members who picked him to join them: a white, male scrupulously careful and conservative Harvard alumnus.

Mockler may prove us wrong, but precisely because he fits the mold so perfectly, the appointment is a disappointment. The Corporation, the oldest self-perpetuating body in the hemisphere, has never had a woman or minority member. Its stances on issues like investments in South Africa have been stodgy over the years. It needs a more diverse body and a more democratic selection process that at the very least incorporates the opinions of faculty and other alumni. Otherwise the Corporation will remain the embodiment of the old aphorism: The more things change, the more they remain the same.


* Harvard and Cambridge: The city's relationship with its largest resident has always been bittersweet at best, but lately Harvard has been giving off more cooperative vibes. It cooperated with local leaders on a major building project, the University Place development, and agreed to a fairly generous settlement with tenants of the Harvard owned Craigie Arms apartment house who were being evicted to facilitate renovations.

But Harvard's got a long way to go. The in lieu of tax payments it gives Cambridge haven't been updated in 10 inflationary years, and Craigie residents now accuse Harvard of not living up to last spring's promising settlement. The University has also refused to discuss its treatment of tenant complaints with city officials (President Bok recently told a city councilor it was none of his business), and it hasn't made an adequate effort to make its enormous resources available to Cantabridgians. Harvard should begin acting more responsibly.

* The Coop's labor problem: Workers at the Harvard Cooperative Society were supposed to vote this week to join the United Food and Commercial Workers local 1445; it would have been the second such election in 18 months. In early 1981, a unionization bid fell short, but this summer a judge ruled that the Coop had been guilty of a series of unfair labor practices, ranging from unlawful coercion against the union to harassment of employees. Sensing a similar misbehavior, the union last week called off the election.

Sooner or later, there will be another election, and the antiunion Coop management should control its instincts and abide by fair labor guidelines. If it doesn't the Coop's members-- among them most undergraduates--should loudly protest. Coop workers deserve unionization, which seems the best way to combat the irregular promotion schemes and low wages that some workers complain about.

* MATEP: The $260 million Medical Area Total Energy Plant has been a costly thorn in Harvard's side ever since construction began six years ago on the project. Environmentalists and community residents have repeatedly tried, with some success, to close the plant. This summer, a state judge blocked MATEP from operating for at least several months. The reason, amazingly enough: The University had never checked to see if MATEP's diesel fumes were carcinogenic. Other state investigations found that Harvard had violated numerous testing procedures

The MATEP saga has been a classic case of inconsiderate University behavior. Harvard has consistently refused to consult the concerned Brookline and Mission Hill residents who must live among its possibly toxic fumes. More brazenly, it has refused to test its plant for numerous health hazards, cockily denying serious health code violations that were later uncovered. Unless MATEP's management style changes drastically. Harvard should give up on this costly embarrassment.

* The race-relations Foundation. Harvard's solution to campus racial tension enters its second year with a quadrupled budget and with the goal of attracting increased student leadership. The agency, formed as a compromise measure after a coalition of campus minority groups had called for a Third World center, faced a rocky first year, as some minority students, particularly the Black Students Association, didn't give it their firm backing.

Foundation Director S. Allen Counter, the driving force behind the agency last year, is right to try to elicit increased student leadership and to fight separatism. His political and cultural programs also sound promising. Students, majority and minority should lend their support to the Foundation and participate in its activities. And Counter, for his part should try to be more open than last year about the agency's plans for easing campus racial tension.

* Student government: The Undergraduate Council, the University's first officially recognized student government in years, gets underway this fall, and students are scheduled to vote for representatives in October. The council will replace the pathetic Student Assembly, known for its ludicrously low attendance and for one singular accomplishment: securing additional toilet paper for the River Houses.

We're skeptical about the prospects for effective student government at Harvard, where most natural leaders tend to flock to other campus organizations and where spontaneous protests and coalitions galvanized at the last minute tend to be more effective. But all undergraduates should use their votes seriously, because the council's first-ever $60,000 budget should be allocated prudently and because student government should broaden beyond the clique of adolescent megalomaniacs who have dominated it so often in the past.

* The ivy: When we last left Cambridge. Harvard's most seasoned administrators--and some of its most erudite scientists-- had reached the much-publicized conclusion that the ivy on the University's buildings was munching away at the cement up which it crawled, causing lasting and expensive maintenance problems.

That little piece of research spelled doom for the green stuff on the walls of Lowell and Winthrop Houses, both of which, during renovations, saw their ivy torn down this summer and supplanted with rather less attractive metal scaffolding.

Now word is out that while we were away, administrators and scientists found that Harvard's ivy also momentarily blinds oncoming motorists, causing countless accidents: drips poison from its leaves on hapless schoolchildren who happen to walk too near, and communicates herpes from room to room of the buildings on which it grows.

We don't care It's so pretty to look at.