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To the Editors of The Crimson:
We would like to address the March 3 editorial dissent "Confrontation Isn't the Way," concerning the Alternative Junior Parents Weekend. Our events highlighting the problems of women and minority faculty hiring received a great deal of attention from both the Harvard community and the visiting parents. The rally, seen by several hundred people (not the mere 50 cited by The Crimson), and the panel discussion/reception were a great success, and they effectively heightened awareness of this pressing issue.
Many criticisms have been aimed at our scheduling of the Saturday morning panel discussion featuring [Assistant Professor of Afro-American Studies and Comparative Literature] Carolivia Herron and [Assistant Professor of Afro-American Studies and Sociology] Roderick Harrison. Although it was held at a time which conflicted with three faculty lectures, the panel attracted approximately 100 people, about two-thirds of them parents. Despite earlier concerns about poor attendance, the panel drew a larger audience than even one of the official faculty lectures.
We would also like to point out that the 2 p.m. time slot that Dean Epps recommended would have actually discouraged attendance, since at that hour, most parents would have been spending their only free afternoon with their children.
And, disproving claims that the event focused on an issue of relative unimportance to parents, many of the parents expressed their thanks to the Minority Student Alliance and the Undergraduate Council Ad Hoc Committee on Minority and Women Faculty Hiring for calling the issue of faculty diversity (or lack thereof) to their attention.
In the March 3 editorial dissent, the authors stated that the weekend's official itinerary "intentionally focused on those most engaging to parents...and not those that are most contentious on campus." Are contentious issues less engaging to parents than topics such as "what it means to be a college student"? And, if it had not been for our activities this weekend, the student panel highlighting, "aspects of the Harvard-Radcliffe Experience" would have been both incomplete and deceptive.
The Alternative Junior Parents Weekend created a necessary and timely opportunity for visiting parents to learn more about the dearth of minorities and women in Harvard's Faculty. Response to the activities showed the consensus among many parents that Harvard's concept of education is anachronistic and demands immediate attention. Cara Wong '92 Vicki Wong '92 Minority Student Alliance
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