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Story Distorted Harvard's Efforts



To the Editors of The Crimson:

Your article of February 2 about the poster listing community meals, food pantries and homeless shelters in Cambridge contained several errors. While we welcome thoughtful and constructive criticism about this project, we want it to be based on correct information. Although we consulted numerous students and community agencies about the poster prior to and during its production, your reporter interviewed only students who had not known about the project. Consequently, they were not aware of how we had approached it.

At least three aspects of this article warrant correction:

1. The poster lists community meals and food pantries available to all people in need, not necessarily just those who are homeless. There are numerous individuals who are not homeless, such as some low-income and elderly citizens, who benefit from these services.

2.Developing this poster did not use money that could have been contributed, by either President Bok's office or the Office of Public Service Programs, to food and housing for the homeless. As I told the Crimson reporter when she called, the Office of the University Publisher donated its services for the design and printing.

3.We actively sought input from Phillips Brooks House Association (PBHA) leadership in developing the poster. Before proceeding with this project, we consulted several PBHA Steering Committee members, including one of the directors of the Hunger Action Committee. Through him, we got a student to work with us, one who had a lot of volunteer experience with hunger and homeless programs. Her input helped to guide the project; and her research helped us to develop the list of services included on the poster.

While we agree that it is naive to expect any informational campaign to solve massive social problems, making needed information available to the public is important nonetheless. Creating poster is clearly not a solution to the problem of hunger and homelessness, nor was the intention of this project to lull the Harvard community into a false sense of comfort.

It is easy to understand why a Crimson reporter, or any member of our community could feel outrage, despair and cynicism when confronted with individuals and families huddled in the doorways of Harvard Square. We hope, however, that such feelings will be channeled productively into action that can reverse this trend, rather than into presenting a distorted picture of legitimate efforts to raise awareness and increase social responsibility. Gail Epstein   Director, Office of Public Service Programs

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