Held said the letter was "filled with misrepresentations, distortions and outright lies" and "smacked of standard anti-Semitic fare." A former Hillel coordinating council co-chair who was quoted anonymously in Counter's letter asked the College to dismiss the director.
Counter later apologized for any "discomfort" caused by his letter and said he meant only to express the feelings communicated to him by many students.
Although The Crimson criticized Counter, a coalition of several minority groups including BSA, Raza and AAA rallied to support him, praising his contributions to College life. President Neil L. Rudenstine eventually got involved and called for an end to the accusations.
In the midst of the brouhaha, the conservative magazine Peninsula began advertising an upcoming speech with a poster entitled "Spade Kicks: A Symposium on Modernity and the Negro as a Paradigm of Sexual Liberation." The poster included a photo of a Black woman stripping for a white audience.
Several students objected to the poster, calling it racist and offensive. Dean of the College L. Fred Jewett '57 and Epps distributed two letters condemning the posters and reaffirming free speech rights.
About 40 Black students walked out of the Peninsula event in protest after one speaker used the word "Negro" 15 times.
"I'm sorry they didn't attempt to listen to the speakers' views," says Peninsula Council member Christian G. Vergonis '92. "I'm also sorry the deans tried to appease a fringe minority of liberal radicals."
In late April, the BSA distributed a flyer describing the campus environment as hostile to minorities. Titled "life on the Harvard Foundation," the poster criticized the Peninsula, the Law School, the Harvard Police Department and The Crimson.
Harvard officials responded to the BSA's complaints by arranging a series of meetings between Black students, Jewish students and high-level administrators as well as talks between Black and Hispanic students and police officials.
The discussions we expanded to the Houses after the Rodney King verdict and Los Angeles riots. Students also held a series of silent protests on the steps of Widener Library, and participated in marches in Boston.
"I do think it has been more tense here because the reaction to the Rodney King episode seemed to bring to the surface problems that we were not aware of," says Epps.
Questions remain about the future of relations between the College's minority communities and how University officials can improve them.
Ali says the campus is more aware of the problems of race relations. But argues that more needs to be done.
"I think there have been deep underlying tensions," he says. "I don't think all of these differences have been resolved."
"We leave knowing there are problems but there is hope--at tempts are underway and should be underway to deal with these problems," he says.
Epps says the administration will continue to address the problems raised by racial tensions on campus through the fall. The College will create a "working group" this summer to review this spring's events and make proposals.
Former Harvard Foundation Student Advisory Committee Co-Chair Muneer I. Ahmad '93 says it may be too early to judge the College's response to racial tensions.
"I think it's too soon to assess the administration's response --to do it on a short term basis is foolhardy," he says.