350th Gala Criticized For Unjust Selectivity

Angry, Oblivious

The upcoming student celebration of Harvard's 350th anniversary promises a lunch with a renowned historian, a formal dinner with a U.S. Supreme Court justice, a tea with the secretary of education and another lunch with two well-known writers.

What it doesn't promise is a ticket to those four events for more than nine out of 10 undergraduates. And the grumbling has begun--among the few who are aware of the 11 College-wide festivities scheduled to commemorate Harvard's founding.

While most undergraduates will be able to attend several of the events planned for the six-day celebration, including a black-tie ball and a bandstand concert, the principal organizer of the event, Dean of Students Archie C. Epps III, said it was simply impossible, logistically and financially, to include everyone in all events.

In addition, organizers of the October 6-12 gala, which will cost in the neighborhood of $140,000, said the bulk of the celebration will take place in the houses, where celebrated alumni or affiliates will give symposia, dine with students or perform.

Still, many students have criticized what they call the heart of the event for being unjustly exclusive. Epps said charges that undergraduates will remain on the periphery of the party were "surprising, but not fair or accurate."


Still, some house committee chairmen, all of whom were invited to the special 350th dinner, were so concerned about exclusivity that they considered not going to the formal affair, which will be held in Memorial Hall to honor house masters and senior tutors.

At Dunster House, the house committee introduced a half-joking resolution to hold a "scuz fest" for the up to 2000 undergraduates who did not get tickets to the 350th black-tie ball. The Southern Africa Solidarity Committee is making plans to hold an alternate dance, while Winthrop House is considering a house party for students who could not get tickets to the fete.

In addition, the Leverett House Committee last night unanimously passed a resolution expressing disappointment with the celebration (see accompanying story). The president and several other executives of The Crimson will not accept invitations to exclusive events.

But, despite $2000 worth of full-page advertisements in The Crimson and a program mailed to every undergraduate at the end of August, a random survey of scores of undergraduates over the last several days revealed a lack of knowledge about the College-wide events slated to start October 8. For most students, awareness of the 350th was limited to the ball and their special house events because those invitations have been distributed.

Those who were aware of the full celebration said they were frustrated that theyhad little chance of attending the morestar-studded gatherings, which will feature, amongother luminaries, Associate Justice Harry A.Blackmun '29, Secretary of Education William J.Bennett, writer James Atlas '71 and historianRichard Norton Smith '59.

"I don't think people are so familiar with it.I think people aren't aware about what they're notinvited to," said Cabot House Chairman Lori E.Lesser '88.

"What I noticed automatically was that half ofthe things were by invitation only," said CamilleL. Landau '90, who worked on the 350th celebrationearlier this month for alumni and selectedundergraduates. "I'm getting into a syndrome whereI feel like I'm never going to be invited."

"There are too many things that sound reallyexciting, but when you get to the bottom, it says'by invitation only,' " said Richard Zayas '88,former treasurer of the Undergraduate Council.

Invitation lists to the events were drawn up byEpps' office although the envelopes have not goneout yet. Still to reach the mailbox areinvitations to the luncheon with Harvard writers,the tea with Bennett and the luncheon after theCornell football game. About half of the 300student invitations to the 350th dinner have goneout, and Epps said the rest would go out later.

"I've tried to get as many undergraduates tothe events as possible," said Anita Ramasastry'88, a member of the 11-member steering committeewho has helped draw up the guest lists.