Share and Share Alike
The Harvard Alumni Association (HAA) has taken a big step toward adding shared interest groups (SIGs) to the list of alumni organizations it serves.
Earlier this year, the HAA board approved a policy enabling the association to support alumni SIGs. "We hope to work with groups such as the Harvard Black Alumni Society and Harvardwood," an entertainment-industry networking group, says Charles Cardillo '91, HAA's director of University-wide affairs. "They exist already without our help, but we want to make them feel like they're more a part of Harvard."
Ultimately, the HAA will offer eligible SIGs the same kinds of benefits it now offers College classes and regional alumni clubs: help with operations, membership, and promotions, including website hosting and on-line discussion capability. But first the association must figure out exactly how to apply eligibility criteria, especially regarding political activity.
"Classes convene around a shared experience over a period of time. For clubs, you're gathering people based on regional proximity," Cardillo says. "With SIGs, it's more complicated." That's because, by definition, many SIGs are activist groups. To receive HAA benefits, they must agree to abide by University restrictions on using the Harvard name and logos, and by HAA's policy that the association itself will "remain neutral on all political issues both inside and outside the Harvard community." If SIGs take public positions on any issue, they must make it clear that they don't represent the University or the HAA.
Within the next few months, the HAA will invite a handful of SIGsfor example, the black-alumni and entertainment-industry groups and the Harvard Gay and Lesbian Caucusto test the policy in a pilot project. Later, the initiative will be extended to other groups as well.
Comings and Goings
Harvard clubs regularly host lectures, seminars, and social gatherings. Following is a partial list of Harvard-affiliated speakers scheduled to speak to local clubs in May. For details, contact local clubs directly, call the Harvard Alumni Association at 617-495-3070, or visit www.haa.harvard.edu.
On May 1, Marshall Goldman, associate director of the Davis Center for Rus-sian Studies, speaks on "The Piratization of Russia" at the Harvard-Radcliffe Club of Maryland. Michael Ignatieff, Carr professor of human rights practice and director of the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at the Kennedy School (see "Harvard Portrait," March-April 2004, page 64), will be the speaker at the Harvard Club of Toronto's gala centennial dinner on May 11. His topic: "The Lesser Evil: Political Ethics in an Age of Terror." On May 13, Richard Cooper, Boas professor of international economics, addresses the Harvard-Radcliffe Club of Worcester on "Prospects for the World Economy: A Glimpse of 2015." On May 20, David Mitten, Loeb professor of classical art and archaeology and curator of ancient art at the Fogg Museum, discusses "Alexander the Great: Man for All Seasons" at the Triad Harvard-Radcliffe Club of North Carolina. Clowes professor of science Robert Kirshner visits the Harvard-Radcliffe Club of Rhode Island on May 25 to discuss "The Extravagant Universe."