To the Editors of The Crimson:
In a letter on May 28 Dean Ebert presented evidence that on the average the minority students at Harvard Medical School are performing almost as well as the rest of the class in their clinical courses. I am delighted to see this evidence. Not only is the information reassuring, but its availability suggests that we may now see a general review of a large-scale educational experiment that has been going on for eight years without any evaluation by the faculty.
While welcoming Dr. Ebert's start toward such a review I must reject his implication that my editorial was criticizing minority students as a group. (I would also like to correct the statement in a Crimson editorial that I was concerned with the impact of minority programs on the quality of the nation's health care.) I was addressing only the problem of the minimal standards for passing all students. The lowering of these standards in recent years affects only a few students, non-minority and minority. But while their number is too small to influence significantly the average quality of medical education and practice, their performance is important for the patients whom they treat. The averages cited by Dr. Ebert do not bear on this problem.
It is clear that most minority medical students here have performed very well. Moreover, their perserverance in overcoming early disadvantages has earned wide admiration. But if poorly qualified students are also passed the well earned credentials of the good students may be tarnished. I am as deeply committed as Dr. Ebert to "the education of able minority students." Bernard D. Davis '36 Lehman Professor of Bacterial Physiology
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