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Thernstrom Waits for Charges

After Charges of Racial Insensitivity, Professor Hears Nothing

By Susan B. Glasser

A professor who has been accused of making racially insensitive remarks during course lectures last semester said yesterday that he was still not received a formal statement of the charges against him.

Winthrop Professor of History Stephan Thernstrom said he has waited three weeks for a statement from the students who first complained to a College committee in February about his portion of Historical Studies A-25, "The Peopling of America."

Early last month, several students presented their concerns about Thernstrom's comments to the Committee on Race Relations--a non-disciplinary body which hears complaints about racial issues. The students discussed the problem with Dean of the College L. Fred Jewett '57, Dean of Students Archie C. Epps III and Assistant Dean for Minority Affairs Hilda Hernandez-Gravelle, who are all members of the committee.

The students making the complaint agreed to compose a written statement detailing their criticisms and send it to Thernstrom, the professor said.

But as of yesterday, Thernstrom said he had heard nothing. "I don't even know what I'm accused of," said Thernstrom. "I don't know where the students are [in preparing their statement], which is a long time given the seriousness of the charges."

Students and section leaders said at the time that the controversy centered on Thernstrom's discussions of slavery, recent Black history, the removal of Native Americans to reservations and the immigration of Hispanics and Asians.

Students making the complaint would not comment yesterday, although one student familiar with the case said, "they're in the process of getting [the statement] done."

It is unclear how College and Faculty administrators would resolve the issues raised, should a complaint be filed. Dean of the Faculty A. Michael Spence is responsible for handling complaints concerning professors.

Spence and other administrators refused comment yesterday.

According to students in the class, complaints about the contents of some lectures were made throughout the semester. Thernstrom apologized to theclass, which he co-taught with Adams UniversityProfessor Bernard Bailyn, during the fall afterhearing charges of racial insensitivity madeagainst some of his comments.

"There are very delicate issues involved inrace relations. I try to be as objective as Ican," said Thernstrom in an interview at the timehe learned of the charges. "It's difficult tospeak candidly--or to say, 'There are no problems,everybody loves each other.'"

One student who was in Thernstrom's course lastsemester said at the time that some of thecomplaints were directed at the professor'sremarks about Black men being threatened bysuccessful Black women. She quoted Thernstrom assaying, "Why do you think Black men beat theirwives?

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