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In Defense of Linda Wilson



To the Editors of The Crimson:

Davida McDonald's frustration with Radcliffe President Linda S. Wilson ["Linda S. Who?," Feb. 2] requires a thoughtful response. As a Radcliffe graduate (1968) who has returned to Harvard determined to help expand opportunities for women and minorities here, I appreciate McDonald's values and goals. But I cannot endorse her criticism of Wilson. The charge that Wilson has failed to grasp adequately the concerns of undergraduates is as surprising as it is unjust.

In contrast to McDonald, I have found Wilson virtually obsessed with helping undergraduate women. Literally every time I have talked with her she has diverted the conversation to ways of involving and benefiting undergraduates.

In one instance, when Ellen Goodman and I met with her to discuss a possible fellow-ship for women who have reached prominence and success but must leave their jobs for ethical or other reasons, Wilson listened attentively and asked us to think about how it might involve undergraduate women.

When I asked for Radcliffe's co-sponsorship of the Barone Center's project to assess the media's portrayal of women, she immediately asked whether it could involve an undergraduate conference or offer some other means of serving undergraduates.

Just because she hasn't signed on immediately to McDonald's version of "helping undergraduate women" doesn't mean that she isn't working effectively on a full range of proposals.

Trying to represent the varied needs of undergraduate women--and make headway in what has been for centuries a closed, white, male bastion--is an uphill and thank-less job. I, for one, am grateful that Linda Wilson has chosen to take on that struggle.

And understanding just how tricky the job is, I am delighted that she is learning the political landscape before she sets off the land mines. I think she deserves a great deal of credit, help and as much time as she needs as a "newcomer"--in order to make lasting progress here. Ellen Hume '68   Executive Director, Barone Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy

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