To the Editors of the Crimson
In 1981, the Harvard Foundation was established to improve relations among racial and ethnic groups within the University. The presidential committee that recommended the formation of the Foundation envisioned a body in which students would feel they had a significant share in the formulation of policies. To quote the committee's proposal, "student participation in it [the Foundation] at the fundamental level is most important." Since that time, the Harvard Foundation, specifically its current director S. Allen Counter, has forgotten the spirit of its conception.
On Monday, December 11, 1984. The Harvard Foundation hosted a reception and dinner for the honorable Dr. Benjamin Hooks, Executive Director of the NAACP. The event had a highly admirable purpose, the celebration of the 75th anniversary of the NAACP, but was handled in a most reprehensible manner. The Foundation brought Dr. Hooks to Harvard for a very private, invitation-only dinner attended by fewer than twenty undergraduates. Surely Dr. Counter who planned the festivities must have realized that a very large number of students, minority and majority, would have liked to have had the opportunity to hear Dr. Hooks speak. Since Dr. Hooks could only spend a few hours on campus, one may wonder if race relations might have been more improved if he had addressed a large group of students in Science Center B as opposed to a small group of administrators and Boston dignitaries in Lehman Hall. Dr. Counter compounded this initial mistake by overlooking the fact that none of the leaders of the major black groups on campus were invited to the exclusive event. This was further compounded when Dr. Counter forgot to invite the liasons that organizations such as the Black Students Association and RAZA had appointed to the Foundation.
When President Bok wonders why minority students are dissatisfied with the College, he need look no further than the first floor of University Hall where Dr. Counter, through careless management, has turned the Foundation into a shell of its intended self. Dr. Counter talks of improving race relations, but that is ridiculous when one realizes that he has lost contact with he various ethnic groups on campus. Dr. Counter is leaving his position at the conclusion of the current academic year, but one may hope that time he rereads the report of 1981 that spawned "his" organization.
Third World Students have shown in the past and will show in the future that they will not be ignored and patronized. Third World Students are not asking for control of the Foundation, only for the legitimate input the Presidential committee recommended. It is hoped that the entire Harvard community, students, alumni, faculty and administration, will take a special interest in the Foundation and help redirect an organization that has gone awry. Darryl A. Parson Kenneth W. Johnson