For the last eight years the Harvard Liberal Union and the UN Council have devoted much of their energy to the showing of popular films--an activity totally irrelevent to the purposes of their organizations. The showing of pictures by these groups has irritated Ivy Films, which feels it has the sole right to put on movies. More important, profit-making films have endangered the tax-free status of the University. Last week, after earlier limitations had failed, the Administration permanently ended the showing of films for profit. Though the University has taken the only possible course, it has left the political groups with a serious financial problem.
In the past, since membership fees and contributions were too small to finance their activities, the H.L.U and UN Council showed movies as well. The profits were used mostly to pay the expenses of well-known speakers or to organize conferences. Showing popular films is now illegal, so unless these groups can find other means of raising money, they may have to curtail their projects.
In financing their activities, the H.L.U. and UN Council have almost consistently refused to charge admission to their forums. They have always argued that panel discussions should be free and open to the public. Commendable as this policy may be, a very slight revision would cure many of the clubs' financial problems.
Each political group could sell a dollar ticket entitling its holder to see all the club's forums throughout the year. The money obtained might go directly into planning future programs. The cost of these forums would then be borne by those who attended the discussions rather than, as before, by those who paid to see the clubs' movies. The chief objection--that students might refuse to buy a dollar ticket for the year--is valid only so long as the calibre of the forums is poor. If the organization plans its programs in advance and is persistent in asking speakers, it should have little trouble in presenting an attractive program. The University could benefit from the possible improvement of college forums as well as from the resolution of a recurrent economic problem.