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Harvard Deserves Scrutiny

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To the Editors of The Crimson:

We, the Committee for Housing Rights of Phillips Brooks House Association (PBHA), wish to respond to comments made by University officials in the article of March 17. The University's intimate and massive involvement with the city of Cambridge demands close scrutiny of Harvard's development and housing policies by students. tenants and politicians. The officials quoted in the article have termed the committee's conclusions "misleading"; our conclusions "mislead" only insofar as they lead students away from the official and incomplete picture that the Corporation constructs of its position and role in the city.

The Harvard officials claim that the committee is unaware of its positive involvement with the city. On the contrary, we acknowledge and laud such projects as last year's James Taylor benefit concert for homeless citizens. Such events, however, fail to address the deeper problems of affordable housing and too often serve as ornaments for Harvard to point to or hide behind.

Thus, despite such high-profile events, Harvard continues both actively and passively to contribute to the lack of affordable housing in the city and to the problem of rampant homelessness. Harvard has blocked proposals and community-based zoning initiatives in the recent past. Today, the Corporation continues to purchase and develop land at great rates and gives back to the city little in the way of compensation for tax losses.

We encourage students, faculty, staff and tenants to continue to press Harvard to make those changes which would truly transform this University into one benign, involved and responsive to the needs and welfare of this city. Sean T. Buffington '91

[on behalf of the Committee for Housing Rights subcommittee of the Phillips Brooks House Association Committee on Homelessness]

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