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Looking Back at the Fall

Semester in Review


In case you were away, or were here more in body than in mind, here is a recap in no particular order of the most important stories of the past semester:


Nadav Safran, director of Harvard's Center for Middle Eastern Studies, announced he would resign his post at the end of the academic year following a three month investigation into his handling of two Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) grants totalling more than $150,000.

A six-page report issued in January by Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences A. Michael Spence dealt specifically with Safran's handling of a 45,700 CIA grant for an October 1985 conference on Islam politics at the Harvard Faculty Club and his acceptance of a $107,430 CIA research contract in 1982 that granted the agency censorship rights over a book and compelled him to keep the fact of agency sponsorship secret.

Spence's report reserved its harshest criticism for members of the now-disbanded committee governing the Center, which attacked Safran's handling of the grants. The report was generally conciliatory in tone, faulting Harvard as much as Safran. It did little to diffuse the national controversy.

Meanwhile, officials at Harvard University Press, which published a book by Safran without mention of the CIA sponsorship, conceded that the publishing house was at fault for not disclosing the funding source.

Safran will retain his lifetime post as Albertson Professor of Middle Eastern Studies in the Government Department.


As the state raised its minimun drinking age to 21, the College moved to ban underage drinking despite student cries that social life would languish.

Before October 31, students under 21 could drink at house functions, but under the new rules, only students with proper identification are served liquor at parties.

The Undergraduate Council passed a resolution calling on the College to establish a special fund to give houses more money to throw more elaborate parties. The resolution also asked that house committees be allowed to apply for temporary liquor licenses enabling them to charge students attending parties.

A student-faculty committee still continues the debate on the council's recommendations, while the rest of the College is settling into a routine of more private parties and master's sherrys without the sherry.


The 1985 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to an antinuclear organization founded by a Harvard professor and a Soviet doctor. The Nobel Committee in Oslo, Norway announced that the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, a worldwide consortium of doctors committed to banning nuclear weapons, won the gold medal and its $225,000 cash prize.

"We need a politics of human survival, and this is what we doctors speak for," said prize-winner Dr. Bernard Lown, an associate professor at the School of Public Health. Lown became the 29th Harvard professor to snag a Nobel since 1914.


Student editors of the CUE Guide, a University-funded course review book, said during the first week of school that a Harvard official threatened to cancel this year's book unless they mitigated criticism of several professors.

The ongoing debate over who should retain editorial control of the course evaluation guide was resolved when the faculty's steering committee ruled that the student editors should determine the book's content, but not its editorial policy.


Breaking with longstanding tradition, Harvard's seven-man governing Corporation decided in October not to grant honorary degrees to dignitaries at the University's 350th celebration. The awards were to come amid the four-day extravaganza which will feature Prince Charles, scholars from around the world, and a climactic fireworks display in Harvard Stadium.

Last spring, faculty and alumni vigorously objected to the possibility that President Reagan would receive a degree if he accepted President Derek C. Bok's invitation to address a convocation. A U.S. president had spoken at Harvard's 250th and 300th anniversaries. Reagan hasn't decided whether to speak yet, spokesmen said.


The Undergraduate Council chose Leverett House junior Brian C. Offut in October as its fifth chairman in four years. Offut, who defeated two opponents for the council chair, said one of his top priorities would be to improve the student government's image with its constituents. Incumbent chairman Brian R. Melendez '86 decided not to seek reelection.

Before Offutt left for Christmas break, however, there was talk in the council of ousting the council chairman as leader of the Endowment for Divestiture, a council-affiliated anti-apartheid fund.


It seemed like a good idea: bring together upperclassmen and freshmen in prefect groups paralleling proctor groups to help freshmen get accustomed to student life. But in November, the prefect program was beginning to look like a dating service.

Two upperclassmen were dating their freshman advisees, and the Freshman Dean's Office quietly reassigned one upperclassman to a different prefect unit and asked another to resign.

The program itself was in no danger. Members of the FDO and the Undergraduate Council, which initiated the prefect system, promised to maintain and expand the experimental program, which involves only one-third of the proctor units.

But some prefects argued that a better training program was needed to explain their roles and how to avoid amorous situations.


In the wake of national attention and widespread criticism, the University removed the $850 iron grates that had been installed five days earlier to prevent homeless people from sleeping on the heating vents behind Leverett House.

"I think the main reasoning for taking the grates down was that the issue had grown to be such a cause celebre," Leverett House Master John E. Dowling '57 said. "We had to try to get the house back to normal."

A student-administrator committee was formed after the mid-January incidents to recommend positive steps the University could take to alleviate the homelessness problem in the Cambridge area.


Some 80 Cabot House residents began moving into their plush new rooms in Briggs Hall this month, as the first phase of renovations to the Radcliffe Quadrangle drew to a close amid worries about the financial prospects for future renovations.

And construction workers are moving on the the next series of badly needed renovations in Barnard and Bertram Halls, guaranteeing Quad residents at least another six months of early morning construction sounds.

But once Bertram and Barnard are finished, the $12 million already raised for the Quad runs out. Officials are worried about finding the money to complete the North and Cabot House renovations which included suites for North House and new dining halls for both houses. They are committed to borrowing $15 million more, but with escalating construction costs, that money won't buy what was promised. So officials must decide whether to accumulate more debt or downscale the Quad remodeling.

Harvard did have the money, however, to complete $4 million renovations to the Indoor Athletic Building, soon to be renamed the Malkin Athletic Center for the man who gave millions of dollars to rebuild the aging sports complex. All facilities in the new center--including a renovated pool, an all new glass-encased aerobics and exercise area, and renovated weight and fitness areas--are in operation. A dedication ceremony is slated for later this month.


After a summer of increasingly bloody violence in South Africa, pressure for divestment mounted here and across the nation. In September, President Bok announced that Harvard had divested $2.8 million of its more than $400 million in South Africa-related stocks and that the University would fund internships for students in that nation through a $1 million endowment. Leaders of the Southern Africa Solidarity Committee (SASC), however, held a rally in October to push Harvard toward total divestment.

Accepting a SASC invitation to speak at Harvard, Nobel Peace Prize-winner Bishop Desmond Tutu addressed standing room only crowds at the Kennedy School's Arco Forum.

"You know something, we're going to be free," Tutu said. "And when we get to the other side of this liberation game, we would like to be able to say `You know something, Harvard University was with us."'


From pornography to rent control, a slew of issues confronted Cambridge residents voting in the biannual municipal election.

On the nine-member City Council, two incumbents were replaced by an opponent of rent control, lawyer William H. Walsh, and Sheila T. Russell, the wife of the late mayor. Voters returned three incumbents to the Cambridge School Committee and elected three first-term officials.

After attracting nationwide attention, voters defeated a controversial referendum which would have allowed the alleged victims of pornography to sue the makers and distributors of obscene material. While a ban on nerve gas testing in the city was upheld, Cambridge residents were split on whether Harvard should be permitted to continue its preferential house sales to faculty members.

Even before inauguration day, the nine city councilors decided to make 26-year veteran Walter J. Sullivan Cambridge's mayor for the next two years.


After months of deliberation and more than 60 hours of testimony, the Committee on Rights and Responsibilities (CRR) placed 10 students on probation in October for blockading a South African diplomat in the Lowell House Junior Common Room last spring. The body also admonished 11 students for their peaceful sit-in at the 17 Quincy St. headquarters of Harvard's Governing Boards.

A voluminous report of the way the CRR viewed both incidents disclosed that police acted without University approval in forming "a human battering ram" to free the diplomat from the JCR. In response to student complaints that the police used excessive force at the demonstration, an investigative body found that, with one exception, the police did not act improperly in the confusing scene at Lowell House.

Almost all anti-apartheid activity on campus quieted down following the CRR's decision.


The College decided to revolutionize the freshman housing lottery when it decided in December to reveal lottery numbers to the anxious Yardlings before they must select their upperclass houses.

In previous years freshmen picked the top three houses they wanted to live in and then received their assignments just before spring break. Under the new system, freshmen will learn their lottery numbers shortly before they submit their choices.

While the revelation is not expected to aid the students holding top numbers, the information should help those with middle numbers who might choose less popular houses, and those at the bottom who might take the Quad more seriously.


The ideological and political struggle over Critical Legal Studies continued at the Law School as six tenured professors, mostly conservatives, were said to be considering faculty appointments at other schools.

Responding to the major rift in the law faculty, President Bok and Law School Dean James Vorenberg '49 said they are ready to intervene in the traditionally democratic but embattled school's tenure process.


The Gramm-Rudman bill, an initiative backed by Congressional Republicans, became a law in December requiring automatic spending cuts in most government programs unless the budget deficit is reduced by a specified amount each year and mandating a balanced budget by 1991.

The first cuts went into effect at the beginning of the year and chopped 4.6 percent from federal education aid.


They've been calling it the greatest gastronomical innovation to hit Harvard dining halls since skincredibles.

Yes, chocolate milk finally made its debut at the beginning of winter reading period--the brainchild of the Undergraduate Council's Residential Committee.

But never fear, milk and cookie lovers. The traditional low-fat milk is still winning the war of the thirsty by more than four-to-one tally, according to Harvard Dining Services. Officials say that although chocolate milk drinkers remain a minority, the dark horse milk is here to stay.


Soviet and international affairs specialists from Harvard briefed President Reagan in Washington before his Geneva summit talks with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. Adam B. Ulam, director of Harvard's Russian Research Center, and Baird Professor of History Richard Pipes prepared the President for his first face-to-face meeting with the Kremlin's top dog.

One issue that divided Harvard observers was whether arms talks would be stymied by Reagan's determination to build a space-based missile defense system, known as the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI).

Meanwhile, Pipes and Marshall I. Goldman, associate director of the Russian Research Center, were hired to do national television commentary during the four days of summit talks in Geneva.


The University hired a private company to take over the operations of the managerially and financially troubled Harvard Faculty Club. Creative Gourmet's of Allston began to run the posh Harvard institution in September.

Unstable management had plagued the Club since the 25-year manager left in 1980 for a Boston restaurant. The Faculty Club reportedly suffers losses of $100,000 annually.

Despite rumored fears of Wendy's hamburgers invading the venerable institution, Creative Gourmet's president assured that it "would be arrogant and wrong to come in and change such a relished tradition."

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