News

Mass. State Rep. Calls on University VP to Increase Transparency for Allston Multimodal Project

News

Harvard President Lawrence Bacow Made $1.1 Million in 2020, Financial Disclosures Show

News

Harvard Executive Vice President Katie Lapp To Step Down

News

81 Republican Lawmakers File Amicus Brief Supporting SFFA in Harvard Affirmative Action Lawsuit

News

Duke Senior’s Commencement Speech Appears to Plagiarize 2014 Address by Harvard Student

ABOUT/FACE

Women Move Into Leadership, Ethnic Diversity Lags Behind

By David A. Fahrenthold, CRIMSON STAFF WRITERS

"How can we run editorials like this," The Crimson asked in a fall 1973 comp advertisement, "with a staff that looks like this?"

The ad featured a staff editorial on gender parity in admissions, next to a table showing that, 26 years after the first woman joined The Crimson staff, fully five-sixths of all staffers and 20 out of 23 executives were male.

One year after that comp ad ran, Gay W. Seidman '78, an outstanding news camper, was encouraged by a male editorial chair to seek The Crimson's top position.

Seidman later became the first female president in the newspaper's 104-year history. Four women have followed Seidman into the president's office since 1977, the most recent in 1994.

Over the years, The Crimson has proven less successful in attracting and retaining staff members of different ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds, leading some to question the newspaper's ability to cover an increasingly diverse campus.

Seidman and `the Boys'

"I have to say that the boys were not bad," Seidman says. "The whole time I was there, the boys were very supportive of women working for the paper."

James Cramer '77, The Crimson's president in 1976, says Seidman, gender aside, was the most qualified candidate in that year's class.

"I went in and nominated Gay, and it was unanimous," Cramer says. "We talked about it all of 22 seconds."

Seidman was not the first female executive to walk through The Crimson's doors. More than a decade earlier, Linda McVeigh Mathews '67 had become the newspaper's first female managing editor. Several women have led the newsroom as managing editor since then.

Still, Seidman's presidency opened doors for women on their way to The Crimson's top executive position.

Two years later, Susan D. Chira '80 assumed the presidency, leading an executive board that included a female managing editor, a female associate managing editor and a female editorial chair.

"Obviously, Gay's election was a big step," says Francis J. Connolly '79, president of The Crimson in 1978.

"I didn't perceive a tremendous amount of sexist feeling," he says. "She had nothing to overcome except tradition-there was no sense of `A woman can't do this, damn it.'"

Later, female executives tried to make their own marks as leaders at The Crimson.

Chira says she sought to make The Crimson "a little less rough-and-tumble" for everyone during her tenure.

"I'm uncomfortable saying there was a difference, although certainly it was obvious that there were a lot of women," she says. "It was probably very encouraging for other women."

One year later, Chira's class chose Susan C. Faludi '81 as managing editor, who says even after two female presidents, she felt her gender made a difference in her conduct as an executive.

"I wasn't pioneering new ground, but it affected the way I assigned stories as a managing editor," Faludi says.

"I was interested in a wider array of stories than some young undergraduate whose thinking about women didn't extend beyond whether he was going to have a date with [one]," she says.

But when Holly A. Idelson '85 arrived at The Crimson the spring of her first year, she says the newspaper had already "swung back into a male-dominated mode."

"There were women around--it certainly wasn't a frat house," says Idelson, who served as the 1984 editorial chair. "There were female executives, but when you were dealing with figures of authority, you were generally dealing with men."

Jessica A. Dorman '88, who entered the building as a sports camper in 1984, has similar memories of The Crimson.

"When I got there, it was a big male macho place. I tried to make The Crimson more comfortable and inclusive," says Dorman, who, in 1987, became the first female president in eight years.

She says her presidency was aimed primarily at improving The Crimson overall, with goals including better relationships between the newsroom and other boards.

"I did help [women] by just being there," she says. "I wasn't just there for the women."

Out in the Open

At times, gender relations at The Crimson played out in direct confrontations.

The women's bathroom at The Crimson became the center of attention in 1989 when the business manager painted over staffer-written graffiti. The graffiti had begun in protest to male dominance at The Crimson and had been accumulating since before Seidman's time.

"I mobilized all the women that were there. We went out and bought colored markers," says then-Managing Editor Susan B. Glasser '90 of the drive to restore the graffiti. "That was the biggest gender mobilization when I was there. There were 10 to 15 women in the bathroom the whole day."

Four years later, gender relations exploded in a Commencement-week confrontation between Crimson President Ira E. Stoll '94 and several female editors who were attempting to carry the president's chair from its place in the Sanctum into the women's bathroom as part of a prank.

According to the editors involved, an enraged Stoll saw the prank as the culmination of ongoing tension between himself and the female editors. According to The Crimson's official account, he used a "hurtful" obscenity specifically directed at women in a violent exchange and was later formally censured by the staff.

"[The incident is] hard to describe, but I can understand after being a president myself why he was so stressed," says Stoll's successor, Marion B. Gammill '95. "Not that excuses what he did. Ira said those things. They came from his head."

Gammill recalls that as she and her classmates prepared to seek executive positions, "people started saying it was `The Year of the Woman.'"

"I don't think that [Stoll's actions] specifically influenced their decision," she says.

"I did try to make sure women felt comfortable at The Crimson," she adds. "I also tried to make men feel comfortable too. I had to be president for everybody."

Editorial Decisions

As women gained a stronger voice at The Crimson, the editors were forced to confront gender issues in the pages of the newspaper.

The Crimson first wrestled with the use of gender-neutral terminology in 1973, debating whether to use "chair," "chairman/chairwoman" or "chairperson" in articles.

But gender-neutral terms continued to be used inconsistently through the '70s and '80s until a permanent policy solidified under Glasser and Rebecca L. Walkowitz '92.

"The correctitude of the paper was to the nth degree," Cramer says. "We did whatever was the most politically correct thing at the moment."

Current Crimson form includes the terms "first-year," "letter carrier" and "chair."

Playboy magazine tested the virtues of a cash-strapped Crimson under Chira by submitting an ad soliciting women to pose for its "Girls of the Ivy League" issue.

When the staff voted to reject the ad, Playboy made the refusal national news.

"Playboy made a big deal out of it--'Look at these naive women's libbers at The Crimson,'" Chira says. "There was a lot of mockery."

Playboy sent a similar ad to a Crimson in similar financial troubles during the mid-eighties, when it was again rejected after extensive debate.

"[The question was,] 'Should we be setting this ad policy and put a moral spin on our revenue?'" says Julie L. Belcove '89, a former Crimson executive. "No one was defending Playboy. It was more a question of injecting our politics into our business practices."

But ads for the sexually explicit magazine "Oui" did appear in The Crimson until the late seventies, including Seidman's year as president.

"We weren't comfortable taking all ads," Seidman says. "But we were also broke."

Minority Voices

In 1973, The Crimson was supporting demonstrations against Harvard's investment in African colonies and fighting internally over whether to capitalize the words "black" and "Chicano" in stories.

At the same time, the staff was, by its own estimation, woefully lacking in minority voices.

"We were disturbed by the under representation of blacks and Latinos on staff," says Daniel A. Swanson '74, Crimson president in 1973.

The homogeneity of the staff would continue tobe addressed by Crimson presidents throughout theseventies and eighties and is still one of thechallenges facing today's Crimson executives.

Nicholas B. Lemann '76, Crimson president twoyears after Swanson, says a reporter once came tohim with a list of campus ethnic organizations,having listed The Crimson as a group for Jewishstudents.

"The tenor of The Crimson was suburban,upper-middle-class northeastern Jewish," Lemannsays. "There was a little bit of everybody, butthat was the dominant group."

Executives from the '70s say this stereo-typeof a predominantly white and Jewish Crimsoncontinued to be fairly accurate, despite minorityrecruitment efforts.

"[Minority recruitment] is something we triedhard to do," Chira says. "We did have students ofcolor comp and become editors, but they did nottend to stick around."

Cheryl R. Devall '80-'81, a former Crimsonexecutive, says that minority reporters frequentlyturned from The Crimson to other extracurricularactivities after finishing their comp.

"I think what's probably lost is not one pointof view that any one person of color is going tobring, but the kind of [everyday] discussion thathelps people think twice before making assumptions[about race]," says Devall, who is black.

Devall says these discussions, bred of longhours working together at the paper, would createa sensitivity to racial issues more valuable thansimple racial diversity.

"I am not of the opinion that only black peoplecan write about black people, that only Asianpeople can write about Asian people," she says."But it takes a degree of having your eyes openedand your opinions challenged to be a good writerand to be thoughtful about many kinds ofexperiences."

Impact on Coverage

During Devall's time at Harvard, The Crimsonfaced a lawsuit and the national spotlight becauseof a photo illustration accompanying an editorialpiece about race and criminal justice.

The illustration--a picture of two blackstudents with prison-style bars superimposed overthem--prompted the students, backed by the BlackStudents Association (BSA), to sue The Crimson for$480,000. The case eventually settled out ofcourt.

"I was sitting in the midst of this andthinking, `How did it get to be this bad?'" saysDevall of the controversy. `"Why can't people onthe paper understand the anger that the people atthe BSA are bringing?'"

More than a decade later, The Crimson againfound itself embroiled in a controversy centeringon race. Crimson reporter J. Elliot Morgan's lifewas allegedly threatened during an interview withLeonard Jeffries, an Afro-centrist professor atthe City University of New York.

Jeffries delivered a speech at Harvard severalmonths later at the invitation of three blackstudent groups. The Crimson objected, calling himanti-Semitic in a staff editorial. Jeffries'backers reacted with criticism of what they calledbiased coverage in The Crimson.

"[The BSA] said that, `It's no wonder you don'thave any black reporters,'" says Maggie S. Tucker'93, co-managing editor at the time.

Philip P. Pan '93, co-managing editor withTucker, admitted The Crimson staff's lack ofdiversity relative to the student body madecovering the Harvard community more challengingduring his tenure.

"It's important to have a staff that reflectsthe community it covers," he says. "You wantreporters who will come to stories with differentideas."

Pan says that, while he never cast himself asan Asian American role model, he says heunderstands why a diverse staff attracts a diversecomp class.

"It did make a difference to have an Asian compdirector," says Pan, who camped under Spencer S.Hsu '90, an executive editor in 1989.

The Crimson's business board has electedminority students to its highest offices much morefrequently than the news department. Of the last14 business managers, seven have been minoritystudents.

"It was certainly nice to see other minoritiesthere that are doing well," says Young J. Lee '94,business manager in 1993.

"I could conceivably say, `Here's an AsianAmerican that did well and was elected businessmanager. This is a place where I can do well,too,'" Lee says.

Out at The Crimson

While issues of gender and ethnic diversity hadcome into sharp focus in the seventies, sexualorientation remained in the shadows.

Arthur H. Lubow '73, managing editor in 1972,met his partner of 25 years, David N. Hollander'71, when Hollander was his comp tutor. Hollanderwas Crimson president in 1970.

In their time at The Crimson, however, neitherwas aware the other was gay.

But Lubow says his silence about his sexualorientation was not due to any institutionalhostility.

Other former editors expressed similarimpressions of the atmosphere in the buildingnearly 20 years later.

"Everyone at The Crimson knew I was gay, butnobody talked about it with me," says John A.Cloud '93, co-editorial chair in 1992, who met hisfirst boyfriend at The Crimson.

"Everyone knew because I was a terrible flirt,"he says. "I never felt [that] if I had come out Iwould have been discriminated against."

The early nineties were a time when discussionof sexual orientation grew on campus and at TheCrimson.

While Cloud was editorial chair, The Crimsonstaff opposed the return of the Reserve OfficersTraining Corps (ROTC) to Harvard because of theprohibition against gay men and lesbians in thearmed forces.

Controversy surfaced in 1991 following an issueof Peninsula, a conservative monthly, devoted to abiblically-based attack on homosexuality.

"The atmosphere on campus in terms of Peninsulahad a pretty chilling effect," says David S.Kurnick '94, an arts editor in 1993.

At a rally of gay students and supportersprotesting against the Peninsula issue, Rev. PeterJ. Gomes, Plummer professor of Christian moralsand minister in the Memorial Church, announced heis gay.

"I wrote the news article [on the rally] as asophomore camper, and I remember the Peninsulaissue that came out after it," Kurnick says. "Itripped The Crimson apart, and I was named in it.It made me nervous that my integrity could becompromised."

"All the editors were trying to be objective.There was some fear [that being gay] could be usedagainst you or that I myself wasn't beingobjective," he says.

Gomes' statement, and its coverage in TheCrimson, also stirred discussion among staffmembers.

"It's hard to overestimate how wild [the rally]was," Kurnick says. "There was a debate at TheCrimson for how big to play it. We didn't have anyprotocol for how to do it."

Rebecca L. Walkowitz '92, Crimson president atthe time, says The Crimson recognized the profoundimplications of Gomes' statement for Harvard.

"It wasn't a matter of shock value. It was amatter of a real ripple through the Harvardcommunity," she says. "We knew it would have alasting impact."

Walkowitz says a lack of openly gay editorscomplicated The Crimson's treatment of the issue.

"There were very few people who would havespoken of themselves as gay helping us think abouthow we were covering these kinds of stories," shesays.

Socioeconomic Diversity

Some former editors say the time commitmentrequired to advance up The Crimson ranks alienatedstudents who needed to work during the term.

"There was still an unspoken expectation thatthe more time you put in [at The Crimson], thebetter your chances were," Devall says.

"And if you had a job at the Fine Arts library,or as a baby sitter, there were just certain hoursyou knew you wouldn't be at the paper," she says."It became hard to decide how much time at TheCrimson was enough."

This year, The Crimson began offering limitedwork-study financial aid to some of its staff.

Former executives say they saw the need for afinancial aid program but could never agree on afool-proof plan to provide aid while maintainingconfidentiality. In other years, the plan wassimply not financially feasible.

"Sometimes it was mentioned in the context ofgeneral diversity," Gammill says. "We felt like wewanted more people who did not come fromcomfortable backgrounds."

Looking Ahead

Diversity at The Crimson is now in the hands ofa task force, headed by Jennifer 8. Lee '99, acurrent Crimson vice president.

Jennifer Lee says the task force has athree-fold mission: to diversify coverage, todiversify the opinion page and to diversify thecomposition of the staff.

"We need to look like the campus if we expectto cover it well," she says. "The Crimson is oneof the few things that ties the whole campustogether. If you believe in diversity, then ournewspaper needs to reflect that."SEBASTIAN CONLEYSETH LIVES DECISIONS: This 1995cartoon reflects on The Crimson's decision to runa Playboy ad seeking models for its Ivy Leagueissue. The Crimson had previously rejected similarPlayboy ads in the late '70s and '80s.

The homogeneity of the staff would continue tobe addressed by Crimson presidents throughout theseventies and eighties and is still one of thechallenges facing today's Crimson executives.

Nicholas B. Lemann '76, Crimson president twoyears after Swanson, says a reporter once came tohim with a list of campus ethnic organizations,having listed The Crimson as a group for Jewishstudents.

"The tenor of The Crimson was suburban,upper-middle-class northeastern Jewish," Lemannsays. "There was a little bit of everybody, butthat was the dominant group."

Executives from the '70s say this stereo-typeof a predominantly white and Jewish Crimsoncontinued to be fairly accurate, despite minorityrecruitment efforts.

"[Minority recruitment] is something we triedhard to do," Chira says. "We did have students ofcolor comp and become editors, but they did nottend to stick around."

Cheryl R. Devall '80-'81, a former Crimsonexecutive, says that minority reporters frequentlyturned from The Crimson to other extracurricularactivities after finishing their comp.

"I think what's probably lost is not one pointof view that any one person of color is going tobring, but the kind of [everyday] discussion thathelps people think twice before making assumptions[about race]," says Devall, who is black.

Devall says these discussions, bred of longhours working together at the paper, would createa sensitivity to racial issues more valuable thansimple racial diversity.

"I am not of the opinion that only black peoplecan write about black people, that only Asianpeople can write about Asian people," she says."But it takes a degree of having your eyes openedand your opinions challenged to be a good writerand to be thoughtful about many kinds ofexperiences."

Impact on Coverage

During Devall's time at Harvard, The Crimsonfaced a lawsuit and the national spotlight becauseof a photo illustration accompanying an editorialpiece about race and criminal justice.

The illustration--a picture of two blackstudents with prison-style bars superimposed overthem--prompted the students, backed by the BlackStudents Association (BSA), to sue The Crimson for$480,000. The case eventually settled out ofcourt.

"I was sitting in the midst of this andthinking, `How did it get to be this bad?'" saysDevall of the controversy. `"Why can't people onthe paper understand the anger that the people atthe BSA are bringing?'"

More than a decade later, The Crimson againfound itself embroiled in a controversy centeringon race. Crimson reporter J. Elliot Morgan's lifewas allegedly threatened during an interview withLeonard Jeffries, an Afro-centrist professor atthe City University of New York.

Jeffries delivered a speech at Harvard severalmonths later at the invitation of three blackstudent groups. The Crimson objected, calling himanti-Semitic in a staff editorial. Jeffries'backers reacted with criticism of what they calledbiased coverage in The Crimson.

"[The BSA] said that, `It's no wonder you don'thave any black reporters,'" says Maggie S. Tucker'93, co-managing editor at the time.

Philip P. Pan '93, co-managing editor withTucker, admitted The Crimson staff's lack ofdiversity relative to the student body madecovering the Harvard community more challengingduring his tenure.

"It's important to have a staff that reflectsthe community it covers," he says. "You wantreporters who will come to stories with differentideas."

Pan says that, while he never cast himself asan Asian American role model, he says heunderstands why a diverse staff attracts a diversecomp class.

"It did make a difference to have an Asian compdirector," says Pan, who camped under Spencer S.Hsu '90, an executive editor in 1989.

The Crimson's business board has electedminority students to its highest offices much morefrequently than the news department. Of the last14 business managers, seven have been minoritystudents.

"It was certainly nice to see other minoritiesthere that are doing well," says Young J. Lee '94,business manager in 1993.

"I could conceivably say, `Here's an AsianAmerican that did well and was elected businessmanager. This is a place where I can do well,too,'" Lee says.

Out at The Crimson

While issues of gender and ethnic diversity hadcome into sharp focus in the seventies, sexualorientation remained in the shadows.

Arthur H. Lubow '73, managing editor in 1972,met his partner of 25 years, David N. Hollander'71, when Hollander was his comp tutor. Hollanderwas Crimson president in 1970.

In their time at The Crimson, however, neitherwas aware the other was gay.

But Lubow says his silence about his sexualorientation was not due to any institutionalhostility.

Other former editors expressed similarimpressions of the atmosphere in the buildingnearly 20 years later.

"Everyone at The Crimson knew I was gay, butnobody talked about it with me," says John A.Cloud '93, co-editorial chair in 1992, who met hisfirst boyfriend at The Crimson.

"Everyone knew because I was a terrible flirt,"he says. "I never felt [that] if I had come out Iwould have been discriminated against."

The early nineties were a time when discussionof sexual orientation grew on campus and at TheCrimson.

While Cloud was editorial chair, The Crimsonstaff opposed the return of the Reserve OfficersTraining Corps (ROTC) to Harvard because of theprohibition against gay men and lesbians in thearmed forces.

Controversy surfaced in 1991 following an issueof Peninsula, a conservative monthly, devoted to abiblically-based attack on homosexuality.

"The atmosphere on campus in terms of Peninsulahad a pretty chilling effect," says David S.Kurnick '94, an arts editor in 1993.

At a rally of gay students and supportersprotesting against the Peninsula issue, Rev. PeterJ. Gomes, Plummer professor of Christian moralsand minister in the Memorial Church, announced heis gay.

"I wrote the news article [on the rally] as asophomore camper, and I remember the Peninsulaissue that came out after it," Kurnick says. "Itripped The Crimson apart, and I was named in it.It made me nervous that my integrity could becompromised."

"All the editors were trying to be objective.There was some fear [that being gay] could be usedagainst you or that I myself wasn't beingobjective," he says.

Gomes' statement, and its coverage in TheCrimson, also stirred discussion among staffmembers.

"It's hard to overestimate how wild [the rally]was," Kurnick says. "There was a debate at TheCrimson for how big to play it. We didn't have anyprotocol for how to do it."

Rebecca L. Walkowitz '92, Crimson president atthe time, says The Crimson recognized the profoundimplications of Gomes' statement for Harvard.

"It wasn't a matter of shock value. It was amatter of a real ripple through the Harvardcommunity," she says. "We knew it would have alasting impact."

Walkowitz says a lack of openly gay editorscomplicated The Crimson's treatment of the issue.

"There were very few people who would havespoken of themselves as gay helping us think abouthow we were covering these kinds of stories," shesays.

Socioeconomic Diversity

Some former editors say the time commitmentrequired to advance up The Crimson ranks alienatedstudents who needed to work during the term.

"There was still an unspoken expectation thatthe more time you put in [at The Crimson], thebetter your chances were," Devall says.

"And if you had a job at the Fine Arts library,or as a baby sitter, there were just certain hoursyou knew you wouldn't be at the paper," she says."It became hard to decide how much time at TheCrimson was enough."

This year, The Crimson began offering limitedwork-study financial aid to some of its staff.

Former executives say they saw the need for afinancial aid program but could never agree on afool-proof plan to provide aid while maintainingconfidentiality. In other years, the plan wassimply not financially feasible.

"Sometimes it was mentioned in the context ofgeneral diversity," Gammill says. "We felt like wewanted more people who did not come fromcomfortable backgrounds."

Looking Ahead

Diversity at The Crimson is now in the hands ofa task force, headed by Jennifer 8. Lee '99, acurrent Crimson vice president.

Jennifer Lee says the task force has athree-fold mission: to diversify coverage, todiversify the opinion page and to diversify thecomposition of the staff.

"We need to look like the campus if we expectto cover it well," she says. "The Crimson is oneof the few things that ties the whole campustogether. If you believe in diversity, then ournewspaper needs to reflect that."SEBASTIAN CONLEYSETH LIVES DECISIONS: This 1995cartoon reflects on The Crimson's decision to runa Playboy ad seeking models for its Ivy Leagueissue. The Crimson had previously rejected similarPlayboy ads in the late '70s and '80s.

Want to keep up with breaking news? Subscribe to our email newsletter.

Tags