Fired Up


To the Editors of The Crimson:

John N. Rosenthal's point about student unconcern regarding Harvard life ("Apathy About Apathy," May 1) is well taken. Even when opportunities to participate and to lead are offered them, most Harvard students are just not interested in having a part in running their university. Some committed and hardworking students exist--most notably on the Committees on Undergraduate Education, Housing, and College Life, and on the Undergraduate Council--but the great majority of us, myself included, usually sit back and let their voices speak for ours.

Where Mr. Rosenthal expands his discussion to include apathy on "national issues," however, I must take issue with his examples. He does not play fairly by comparing us unfavorably with Yale students who honored employees' picket lines last year: there has been no strike here, so no basis for comparison exists. Protest in favor of fraternities at Amherst and Colby support self-interest, nor "national issues." And the suicidal flavor of the Brown students' symbolic statement is their campaign for cyanide pills makes it is position morally repugnant to me, and Mr. Rosenthal has no right to fault me the rest of the Harvard community for not solving similar campaign here.

More importantly, "Apathy about Apathy" portrays that the apathetic contingent looks far large than it is. On one side of this line, as Mr. Rosenthal draws it, are the organizers of angry protests which gain national press coverage, the son associated with student activism in most people's minds, such as the current campaigns, against apartheid and fordivestment, complete with loud rallies large crowds, discontent, and a confrontation mentality. On the other side, the article implies, is everyone else. people hopelessly uninterested in affecting their world Mr. Rosenthal what about the upon hundreds of Harvard undergraduates who participate every day social action and community throughout the Cambridge and greater Boston area? About 40 student the Food Salvage program, which transports food which would otherwise have been wasted from Square restaurants and Harvard University Food Services kitchens to the shelter for the homeless in University Lutheran Church, where it feeds up to 30 hungry people every day. Over 100 students run the shelter, which houses 24 each winter night. Harvard volunteers make up the large part of the staff of Tutoring Plus, an enrichment center for Cambridge children in Central Square. There are Harvard students in classrooms, afterschool centers, rest homes, the Boys' and Girl's clubs, mental institutions and prisons. They are Big Sisters and Brothers, they help acclimate Russian immigrant families to American life, they teach Cambridge youth to dance: they oversee and staff a multitudes of programs under the auspices and funding of Phillips Brooks House, the Catholic Student Center, Harvard/Radcliffe and other community agencies. I, along hundreds, choose to channel my discontent at an imperfect world into concrete action to better my community. We are "fired up about something [we] care about, "Mr. Rosenthal, and just because our discontent doesn't make the 11 o'clock news, or The Times, or The Crimson, doesn't mean it isn't there.

Almost every student at Harvard could do more to help run Harvard. And many perhaps even most. Harvard students could do more to improve that world in which they live, a world which by anyone's estimate not the best that is could be. But those of us who are working to enrich life in eastern Massachusetts do not deserve to be reckoned less than those who are protesting in soliders with Black South Africans, of going to jail for Central Americans, writing letters for Russian Jews, or collecting for the hungry in Europia. We've as "fired up" as they are we're just not . Richard B Mintz '87