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Editors' note: The issue of abnormally high concentrations of toxic compounds in Harvard water was raised in several Crimson editorials last spring. In these editorials, we noted--as Mr. Vautin states--that utilities managers across the University knew about the water problem. Our editorial asked why that health information never reached the vast majority of students, faculty and staff. Our use of the word "silent" referred to administrators' (lack of) communication with students, faculty and staff--not to any paucity of memos among themselves.
Second, our editorials objected to the silence that persisted while the administration conducted tests of the water; given the record of contamination over the previous 16 months, we argued that University residents should have been notified of any potential danger. Instead, UHS director Dr. David S. Rosenthal called the memo from Cambridge too "alarming" to tell students. Rosenthal even said he had no plans to immediately release the results of the test--although the University did so after our editorials.
Mr. Vautin argues that the administration has been "consistently forthright" in disclosure of environmental hazards. But Harvard's failure to make any reasonable (let alone every possible) effort to inform students of the health risk from Cambridge water testifies to the contrary.
We stand by the facts and opinions expressed in The Crimson's editorial. J.L.L. and J.M.S.
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