Last evening the Student Council held its final meeting of the year, brought up for discussion certain current matters, and in one case at least, passed a definite resolution. And yet, despite this all too infrequent happening, the representatives of the student body refused to reveal what question had actually attained the voted opinion of the group.
In concealing from the press the results of its deliberations, the Council fails to fulfil its fundamental obligations to the undergraduate body that it represents. The rampant lack of interest in the Council among the students is largely due to the fact that nothing is ever heard of that group.
The reasons offered for this occult policy in respect to business carried out condense into one, that the Council is in the last analysis an advisory body. Its decisions must be further approved by various University committees. It would cause embarrassment the argument runs, both to the Council and to the University officials concerned if some measure passed by the first group should be turned down by the second. If no notice of Student Council conclusions is ever made until the change has passed all the stages of official sanction, it makes no difference what the attitude of the group was in the first place, because no one of the general student body is acquainted with what its representatives are doing.
As a result of this policy the prestige of the Council has followed a downward path during the past year. Too often its decisions have been instigated by direct suggestions from the College office. Seldom if ever has any constructive work been carried on by the Council's initiative. The general tone has been that the Council is responsible to the officers of the University, and not to the student body.
The Council Constitution states as one purpose of the Council "to cooperate thoroughly with the Faculty in raising the general intellectual standard at Harvard." The annual reports prepared by the group may be classified under this heading. This year, in order not to force the hand of the Council, no announcement has ever been made either of the subject of this year's writings, or of the men who are producing them. Further portions of the Constitution state it the purpose of the Student Council "to bring before the governing bodies of the University expression of undergraduate opinion on subjects pertaining to the University, and to cooperate with the Committee on Athletics in eradicating any evils in the conduct of athletics."
It is obvious that the Council should attempt to help the governing bodies of the University. But the elected and appointed men who sit in the Council meetings are even more responsible to the student body of which they form a part. A resolution honestly arrived at by the Council, secretly referred to the governing board, rejected and hence killed with them, may actually represent the general consensus of opinion among students. If the Council's resolutions were brought to the notice of the student body through publication, as well as to the governing boards, the representative character of the group would be fulfilled. At present, unless the Council's decision meets the approval of the governing boards, it is never heard from again. Soon the elections to the Council will be held. Slight interest can be aroused among the students to elect men to a questionably official status in a council which fails to represent the elective body.