Raza on Razo


To the Editors of The Crimson:

Much attention has recently been directed to the case of a Mexican American undergraduate, Jose L. Razo '89, who allegedly committed a series of armed robberies in California. Because of Razo's ethnic background, questions have been raised by the press and others as to the nature of the Mexican-American experience at Harvard. As the cultural, political, and social organization for Mexican-American students, Harvard-Radcliffe Raza feels obligated to respond.

Perhaps the most dangerous consequence of the Razo case is the tendency to generalize about the Harvard Mexican-American community based on the actions of a single individual. Whether or not Razo's alleged crimes were prompted by his socio-economic background and Harvard experience, drawing conclusions from this case about the minority community as a whole is unwarranted. In an attempt to account for Razo's actions, the situatuon of minority students at Harvard has been oversimplified and misinteroreted by both the national and campus media. For example, the mere title of the article, "Worlds in Collision" (The Harvard Independent, Fall Registration Issue, 1987), implies that Razo's ethnic background is incompatible with a Harvard education and reinforces stereotypes of the Mexican-American community. Such a generalization thoroughly ignores the diversity and potential of the minority community, amply demonstrated by the many achievements and successes of Mexican-American students at Harvard.

We do not wish to imply, however, that there are no difficulties facing minority students at Harvard, or that there is no room for improvement. On the contrary, Raza is all too aware of constructive changes which could benefit not only minority students but the entire Harvard community. High on our agenda is the need for minority faculty and staff, a student support network, minority studies classes, and greater recruitment efforts. The recent establishment of the position of Assistant Dean of Harvard College for Minority Affairs and the distribution of an Open Letter on Minority Recruitment are crucial steps in our efforts to realize these goals. We trust that continued progress will not be impeded by misguided reactions to the case of Jose Razo. Eva de Luna Castro '88   Raul Perez '90   Rudy F. Ruiz '89   Sylvia Torres '88   Fidel Vargas '90