Harvard University's affirmative action admissions program, commended by the Supreme Court in its 1978 Bakke decision on reverse discrimination, contributes to racial tension by casting doubt on the academic abilities of minorities, a two-year study says.
"These doubts represent a particularly serious problem in race relations at Harvard because they challenge the very right of minorities to be at Harvard and to be full members of the Harvard community," the report, released Thursday, says.
A comprehensive survey of 1,300 undergraduates here shows that 62 percent of the blacks interviewed said minority applicants at Harvard have not received enough consideration, while 86 percent of white students said blacks have gotten enough or too much special attention.
"It points out the limits and negative side effects of affirmative action," said Dean of Students Archie C. Epps III. "But these views are a legacy of the '60s admission policies when we admitted as many minorities as possible, including 'risk' students."
"We're into a conservative swing of the pendulum and the country feels it's heard enough about affirmative action for minorities, that enough has been done and whites are getting hurt by it," said Adela Cepeda, a senior who participated in the committee that drafted the report.
"But minorities still have the least amount of education and the most amount of poverty," she said.
Interracial dating has occurred among 70 to 80 percent of minority students, while 41 percent of white students have dated persons of other races, the survey says. And interracial interaction among students in various campus settings has increased substantially, though blacks still tend to cluster together at campus dining hall tables.
"The preconceived sterotypes in discussions of campus race relations break down when you really study the problem," Epps said. "All whites are not racists and all blacks are not separatists."
The innovative study group began after a racal flareup over the February 1977 edition of the satricial Harvard Lampoon, renowned for its biting paradies.
The issue featured on its cover a black child shining the shoes of old John Harvard and it published an article considered particulary objectionable on a disease the magazine called "negrosis," as well as an arsenal of barbs aimed at blacks and black sterotypes.