WHAT good is Radcliffe College? That's a question Lisa J. Schkolnick '88 and many other students have asked since Radcliffe's Board of Trustees decided not to support her suit against the Fly Club.
Radcliffe President Matina S. Horner's silence on the anti-discrimination complaint proves once again that she and her institution have little interest in undergraduates. The folks in Fay House could be influential leaders in the women's movement. They could use Radcliffe to call attention to the plight of modern women, to advance the cause of equality and to fight discrimination.
But Radcliffe has refused to take a stand on important women's issues and has lost the loyalty and respect of its students. Don't expect any bold moves from President Horner or the Radcliffe Board of Trustees on any other women's issues, such as hiring more female and minority faculty members. After all, standing up on controversial issues might harm fundraising efforts, or it might upset Derek Bok and the Corporation--something Horner and Radcliffe now seem afraid to do.
RADCLIFFE'S obeisance to the Harvard administration has caused it to lose touch with today's college students. The school sponsors luncheons, conferences and seminars for its students on important women's issues, but they draw woefully small audiences. At meetings of the Radcliffe Union of Students, Radcliffe's official student organization, less than 20 students regularly attend.
Horner puts the blame on Radcliffe students, maintaining that they "really don't take advantage of thins at Radcliffe as much as they should." In fact, many students do not understand Radcliffe's mission or even why it exists.
When Horner and President Bok signed the 1977 "Merger-Non-Merger" agreement, they agreed that Radcliffe would "delegate to Harvard responsibility for instruction and for the day-to-day management of undergraduate affairs." Yet Radcliffe also continued as a separate corporation. Horner and the other Radcliffe administrators kept their titles and their salaries.
RADCLIFFE is responsible for many worthwhile programs. The Schlesinger Library in the Radcliffe Yard is one of the nation's most valuable scholarly resources. Education for Action, Radcliffe's Murray Research Center and Bunting Institute are also laudable programs. But Harvard has already assumed most of Radcliffe's responsibilities; it could easily incorporate them all.
While Radcliffe is still a big business, owning 40 properties in Cambridge worth more than $84 million and an endowment amounting to about another $84 million, Radcliffe won't survive long. As her alumnae age, Radcliffe will find it difficult to raise money from the younger graduates it spurned. If it is to survive, Radcliffe must convince today's students that it is a worthwhile institution that cares about the needs and concerns of undergraduates.
That is why Horner's resignation should be welcomed. It opens up the possibility that a vigorous new president will be chosen who oppose *** mination in the Harvard community. Radcliffe needs forceful leadership, and it needs a board commited to women's rights. There shouldn't be any final club members on the Radcliffe College Board. And the trustees should be chosen, not on the basis of who has the most MBA s or sits on the most corporations, but who is most commited to opening doors for women.