"We feel that radical action must be taken to emphasize our outrage at the conditions which heretofore have prevailed at Haverford. Again, you know the issues, and in the coming days, there will be no way you can escape them." The Black Students League (BSL) issued this statement to the Haverford community on February 7, 1972, and then fell silent. These terse words marked the beginning of a two-month BSL boycott of Haverford activities that would cause confusion, prompt discussion, and force the campus to address the previously unnoticed issue of race at Haverford.
After the first semester of the 1971-'72 year, it was apparent that black and Latino students were faring poorly academically, in disproportionate numbers compared to their white classmates. In early February, the Committee on Student Standings and Programs responded to this trend by issuing a memo that pointed to a widespread unhappiness among minority students, suggesting that Haverford had become "a hostile environment for black students." The BSL went further in describing this environment, stating, "If community at Haverford has meant the implicit understanding of white bourgeois culture or consciousness, then what changes in the basic structure of the institution have been made to insure the survival or nourishment of those who differ from the dominant or white bourgeois group?"
Over the course of February, the BSL picketed several campus events, including a Collection with then-presidential candidate Benjamin Spock. In late February, they were joined by the Latino students and also the small group of women students on campus.
At the same time, the faculty and administration held a series of meetings to try to figure out what the BSL was asking for, since the group was not issuing any statements. Finally, on February 21, the BSL issued a list of requests that included the initiation of a summer program for incoming minority students, more room for diversity in the budget, and the addition of a minority admissions officer. A late-night meeting at President Jack Coleman's house between members of the BSL, faculty, and administration produced a joint statement that pledged to institutionalize diversity at Haverford. The document accepted many of the BSL's demands and laid the groundwork for further discussion.
The protest produced concrete results. A minority admission representative was hired, courses and faculty members were added, and a Visiting Lecture Program with emphasis on minority concerns was initiated. The Tri-College Summer Institute was created originally for all students, but later evolved into a pre-orientation program for minority students.