I am writing in response to the article regarding Dean of Students Archie C. Epps III's response to the petition of the Minority Student Alliance (MSA) for a multicultural student center ("Officials Deny Request for Minority Center," News, Nov. 2). First, I believe that both The Crimson and Dean Epps misrepresented the goals of the movement spearheaded by the MSA. Additionally, there were a number of factual errors in this article which I would like to bring to your attention.
Both R. Alan Leo's reference to a "minority student center" and Dean Epps' description of the movement as a "Third World center promoting racial separation" misunderstand the basic principle upon which this movement was founded. From its inception the MSA's effort has included organizations from all races.
Presidents from the following organizations have endorsed the petition: Harvard African Students Association, Asian American Association, Black Students Association, Caribbean Club, Chinese Student Association, Cubans-American undergraduate Student Association, Fuerza Quisqueyans, Haitian Alliance, Harvard-Radcliffe Hillel, Hong Kong Club, Irish Cultural and Historical Society, Korean-Americans for Culture and Community, Korean Student Association, Harvard Phillipine Forum, RAZA, Singapore and Malaysia Association, South Asian Association and the Taiwanese Cultural Society.
I would like to discuss the reasons why MSA, along with over 15 ethnic and cultural organizations, made this request to the administration. We all believe that a multicultural student center will: facilitate coordination among ethnic and cultural groups; provide a resource center to which undergraduates interested in learning about other cultures could turn; provide centrally located conference rooms and exhibition space; provide a concrete example of Harvard's commitment to diversity.
Let me stress that the intentions behind this petition were never to segregate students along racial lines. The ultimate goal behind this plan was to provide an area which would facilitate exchange between all students, regardless of their ethnic and cultural backgrounds.
We like to think of the center as analogous to Phillips Brooks House (PBH). PBH is a resource center for volunteer organizations. By providing shared office space for a number of programs, PBH facilitates coordination among these groups. It is ridiculous to assume that PBH separates volunteers from the general student body or that undergraduates not involved in PBH programs feel unwelcome there.
Our plan for a multicultural student center is to provide a resource center for ethnic and cultural groups, ranging from RAZA to the Irish Cultural and Historical Society. The primary goal has always been cultural exchange, not racial seclusion.
I would like to also point out some factual errors in R. Alan Leo's article. First, the MSA currently does not have office space of any kind. Like many ethnic and cultural organizations at Harvard, the MSA has no formally assigned university space.
Second, the article neglected to mention that over 400 Harvard community members also signed a petition of support for this center. This show of support demonstrates that the idea for a multicultural student center appeals to the broader community.
I am disappointed that The Crimson did not adequately represent both sides of the story. By relying solely on the administration's perspective of the multicultural student center, this article provided a slanted view of the MSA-led petition. Ignoring the MSA's perspective on such a critical issue violates the principles of journalistic integrity toward which I am sure The Crimson strives. Sheila Swaroop '96-'97 Co-Chair, Minority Student Alliance As a member of the governing
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