Back to Work

Whenever Dean's Office spokesmen give utterance to their great faith in the Harvard student's self-reliance and sense of responsibility, it is with two unmentioned reservations. One concerns the student's ability to conduct his social life, the other his ability to set up and run his own organizations. The Student Council has already waged this year's installment of the parictal rules battle which, though one of the most successful of such campaigns ever, has been temporarily side tracked. Now it is time to re-examine the second issue--rules for undergraduate organizations.

The background of this issue has been confusing to say the least. Dean Watson first proffered a set of rules in 1948 to which the Council responded with a thirty-three page monstrosity of legalistics. Undergraduates were so aroused that they circulated a petition to abolish the Council altogether, and undergraduate organizations began to campaign vigorously for simpler and more liberal rules.

The Council members redeemed themselves, however, by joining the organization leaders to draw up a new proposal. This new five page set of rules reflected a thorough study of students' needs, administrators' aims, and the desirability, practicality, and consequences of each proposed control. However, Dean Watson rejected the council's requests.

The 1950 council seemed ready to continue the fight against restrictive regulations in the same fashion as its predecessor. Last December, the council called for eight changes in Dean Watson's list of rules:

1. Radcliffe students should be permitted to join Harvard undergraduate organizations.

2. Undergraduate groups should be permitted to appear on commercial radio and television shows. This issue is on a higher level as the Corporation has forbidden such appearances.

3. The rule forbidding all non-Harvard groups to meet in a University-owned building should be amended to except Radcliffe organizations.

4. Organizations should be allowed to hold meetings in the Yard under certain conditions.

5. The rule requiring all new publications to give details on content and financial condition should be abolished.

6. The requirement that admission fees must be for purposes of supporting the organization should be replaced by one saying that admission fees are permissible if they do not endanger the University's tax-exempt status.

7. The rule requiring all groups to leave a copy of their membership lists at the Dean's Office should be abolished.

8. New organizations should not be required to show evidence of financial solvency, but merely a financial prospectus.

Dean Watson completely ignored these suggestions. On January 31, 1950, without first informing the council, the Faculty Committee on Student Activities issued a bilious green eight-page booklet that included all the rules to which the council had objected. The new council, installed at the end of the first term, promptly backed down on the suggestions of its predecessor.

In its draft on the subject, it dropped points 1, 6, 7, and 8, and accepted a rule prohibiting groups from appearing in public performances without Dean's Office permission.

Dean Watson knew he had a new council to deal with, and he took full advantage of that fact. He failed to answer the council's objections for over a month, and when he did he called them mere problems of wording. The council, inexperienced and possibly a trifle scared, took this without a whimper, and the matter was dropped.

Dean Watson said last year that the rules could be re-examined by the council anytime. The council, however, has yet to put this issue on the agenda, evidently feeling that the parietal rules campaign stirred up enough emotion for one month.

This attitude suggests a return to the weakness of last year. The council ought to take up the rules for undergraduate organizations as soon as possible; otherwise it will be easy for the issue to drag on beyond the end of the present council's term, in February, and die out in another inglorious fizzle.