Treat All Applicants Equally


With due respect, Neil Rudenstine, president of Harvard University, should be ashamed of the revelations by The New York Times that Harvard waived both the application deadline and fee to George Watson, a well-off Black student from New Jersey. As a Black student, I live with the stigma that I got into Harvard because I am black and not because I was "qualified." This burden increases with revelations of special treatment to well-off Blacks applying to the University.

Mr. Rudenstine is correct to be "troubled" by growing concerns that some Black students from affluent families are receiving scholarships at other colleges beyond the suggested federal guidelines, but he is wrong to allow the use of smaller enticements such as free trips and waived application fees.

Whether you are giving full scholarships or just free sweatshirts, if the policy is different for Blacks than for whites, then whites have an excuse to cry foul and Blacks, like myself, remain changed by our own self-doubt. To target the neediest qualified Black students, the school should write a set of guidlines which specifies the profile of students who deserve special treatment.

Unless or until these requirements are met, Black applicants should be treated no differently than white applicants with respect to fringe benefits and enticement. V. Clifton Barber, second-year student,   Harvard Business School