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Last week was marked by the reawakening of a radical liberal giant on the Harvard campus. The Bisexual, Gay and Lesbian Students Association (BGLSA) has lurched into the realm of political activism.
In the span of one week, the BGLSA celebrated National Coming Out Week, engaged in poster wars with the Association Against Learning in the Absence of Religion and Morality (AALARM) and issued a new demand for the Harvard administration to think about. In an October 9 letter to Dean of the College Harry R. Lewis '68, Oppenheimer called for the establishment of a gay student center on campus.
We have a few responses to this fanciful demand. To begin with, Harvard should get its priorities straight. Before we start thinking about a student center for the gay community specifically, it might be nice for us to have, oh, we don't know... an actual student center?
Oppenheimer wants the gay student center to contain office space, student lounges, a cafe and a library offering literature on gay issues and other "HIV and AIDS support services and counseling." He helpfully suggests that the new center could be placed in the Loker Commons. This is just great. Last semester, The Crimson reported on the severe shortage of offices for student organizations in the new student center--organizations that requested office space from the Dean of Students' office well in advance of the BGLSA demand. We support giving the BGLSA an office, but they do not merit more space than other student organizations.
Now we are learning that one floor above the Loker Commons the new first-year dining hall, Annenberg Hall, will barely be able to accomodate diners. Space is tight in the newly renovated Memorial Hall. Considering all the goodies that Oppenheimer wants to cram into his student center, the request is simply unreasonable.
If Harvard were to establish a new gay student center, it would be opening a Pandora's box. If we establish a gay student center, what is to prevent black students, Hispanic students, Asian American students or international students from demanding their own spaces? The purpose of establishing the new student center was to create a shared space in which students from different backgrounds can come together and socialize. Building student centers for specific constituencies would go against everything the student center seeks to foster.
Giving the BGLSA a center would be the first step on the way to a ridiculously balkanized campus, one with houses for every race, ethnicity and sexual orientation. Perhaps you think that this scenario of a campus divided is extreme, paranoid and ridiculous. But it is no less so than the BGLSA demand for a student center.
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