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The History of Harvard's Commencement, Explained

Times I Have Been Misquoted

MAIL:

NO WRITER ATTRIBUTED

To the Editors of The Crimson:

I don't normally write to The Crimson to correct its all too frequent mistakes. I usually have more important uses for my time, and when I do have a spare moment, I fear that responding to only some of your tabloid's mistakes would leave readers with the false impression that those of which I have not complained are, in fact, correct. As I have had more than three months in which to respond to your last issue of the spring, however, I thought that I would highlight the most blatant errors that issue contained.

I confine myself to those mistakes in the Commencement issue that concern me personally. While anyone familiar with events around campus can find many more errors in that (and every) issue, I recognize that The Crimson tries to limit the space it devotes to letters, and so have narrowed the scope of this letter accordingly.

First off, The Crimson reported that the Undergraduate Council "spent $275 of its student-funded budget on a self-promotion campaign to poster the campus with lists of the council's accomplishments. The posters, like the council, went largely unnoticed."

Chalk up another Crimson scoop: discovering posters that no one noticed--as they did not exist. Such an expenditure had, in fact, been proposed, but I successfully introduced an amendment that would save the $275 for uses that would better serve students, and the posters were never printed.

Second, it was reported that in my campaign for council chair I argued for an Ideological Council, while my primary opponent, Evan B. Rauch '91-'92, advocated a council that did not take political stances. Precisely the reverse was true; I refer the reporter to the minutes of the election meeting, as well to the accurate reporting of this paper last fall.

Finally, The Crimson twisted and took out of context my remark that "the time for debate is over" in order to claim in its lead editorial that I had advocated suppression of those who argued against the Gulf War. I was declared "despicable." My point, made to a rally whose participants were united in support of our troops but divided as to whether we ought to have delayed war, was simply that the question of whether sanctions would have been effective against Iraq was, at that point, academic, as fighting had begun. As one who contributes to the American Civil Liberties Union and served for a year on the executive board of the Civil Liberties Union of Harvard, I was not seeking to silence anyone. The Crimson has no excuse for such nonsense; I had provided the paper with the text of my speech.

I first became acquainted with The Crimson's casual attitude toward facts when, my first year, I found myself in its pages, complete with quote, plans for the future and reasons for taking advanced standing. What struck me most was not that all were incorrect, but the response of the editor. "We could print a correction," I was told, "but I wouldn't worry about it--this sort of thing happens all the time around here." Indeed it does.

I hope, however, that the present editors will pursue accurate reporting with greater vigor than their predecessors. It would be a refreshing change to have a daily campus paper which prints facts that are not only new, but also correct. Joel Hornstein '92

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