Salient `Screw-Up' Causes Levenson Prize Debacle

Winners' Names Printed Early by Mistake; Distribution Is Delayed

A member of the Undergraduate Council has offered to resign after publishing the winners of the council-sponsored Levenson Prize for Undergraduate Teaching in The Harvard Salient before they had been officially announced.

Matthew L. Bruce '96, the, editor of the Salient, acknowledged yesterday that he was responsible for printing the notice of congratulations which revealed information that was supposed to be kept secret until an awards dinner tonight.

Several Salient staff members and council members said they had been trying to remove all copies of the conservative bi-monthly publication from campus distribution centers since they learned of Bruce's mistake late last week.

Bruce is a member of the council's Student Affairs Committee, which picks the Levenson winners. In an interview last night, he apologized for his mistake but maintained that it was an honest one.

"The incident reflects the fact that human beings are very, very imperfect people and reflects the fact that if somebody in a position of power does something phenomenally stupid it can have disastrous consequences," Bruce said.


The Levenson awards are given annually to the teaching fellow, junior faculty member and senior faculty member who have "contributed the most to undergraduate education," according to Fine.

The issue of the Salient in question had been distributed to several house dining halls and dorm rooms by Thursday. The notice was printed beneath an advertisement for Domino's Pizza on the third page of the May 8 edition.

After learning of what he termed "the problem," Bruce wrote in the electronic mail message to the council saying that he would "try to halt further distribution until Monday." That message was forwarded to The Crimson by a council member requesting anonymity.

Douglas M. Gordon '97,a managing editor of the Salient, said he removed May 8 issues from several distribution centers.

"I don't know if other staffers did that, but that would not necessarily have been against what we wanted done," Gordon said.

But according to Salient Managing Editor William Jay '98, there were no formal instructions from Salient higher-ups to pull issues from distribution centers.

"I can't imagine that I wouldn't have been [consulted about removing them],"Jay said.

Fine said in an interview yesterday afternoon that he didn't know whether members of the council had pulled issues of the Salient from distribution centers around campus.

In an electronic mail message sent by Fine to members of his committee, however, he urged members to remove from circulation as many issues as possible.

In the message, forwarded to The Crimson by a council member requesting anonymity, Fine instructs the committee to "check and see if the Salient has been delivered to your house or dorm."

"If it has," Fine's letter reads, "go steal any extra copies from the distribution center or those in front of people's doors. You do this with Matt Bruce's permission."

While Bruce said he did not know and refused to comment on whether council members removed copies of the Salient from distribution points, he said "removing issues from the distribution centers gets into the appearance of First Amendment problems."

Bruce said that the cause of the error was due to his confusion concerning the date of the Levenson dinner.

"It was based on the assumption that the dinner was May I rather than May 8," Bruce said. "Had the dinner actually been May 1, there would have been no problem because the world would have known who won the Levenson award. The primary mistake I made was not confirming the actual date of the dinner."

Salient President Corwyn D. Hopke '96 said the issue went to press on Tuesday morning and was returned to campus on Wednesday.

Council members said yesterday that although they were upset by what had happened they believed that Bruce made a simple mistake.

"He screwed up but he didn't do anything intentional," said Randall A. Fine '96, chair of the council's Student Affairs Committee, which picks the Levenson winners.

"It wasn't an intentional `let's-scoop-everybody-and-print-the- names.' I think Matt made an honest mistake."

Council President Joshua D. Liston '95yesterday also expressed forgiveness about thesituation.

"From what I understand, it was just an honestmistake," Liston said. "Matt thought they'd beannounced the first. The Salient's done what theycan to take back the issues."

In his e-mail to the council, Bruce offered his"apologies and resignation." But council VicePresident Justin C. Label '97 said he has notspoken with Bruce about the matter and thus hasn'taccepted his resignation officially. A resignationmust be formally endorsed to take effect.

Gregoire said that about 16 senior facultymembers, 25 junior faculty members and about 35teaching fellows were nominated for the Levensonawards this year.

About 100 students submitted nominations, whichconsist of a 150-word essay, according to Fine