Mr. Thomson's Tactics
The president of the Young Republican Club, by allegedly using his influence for the second time to prevent a Republican from speaking before another College group, has gone just one step too far. When John R. Thomson first tried this stunt in the fall with Senator Bricker, it was possible to laugh the whole thing off as just another squabble between rival political clubs. But now that he seems to have pulled the same trick again, this time with Senator Bridges, it is clear that his actions are subverting the whole structure of undergraduate organizations and deserve immediate condemnation.
Condemnation of Thomson's antics should be limited to the facts, however. Last week, when representatives of five student groups spoke out against Thomson's "underhanded" methods to "defeat the Political Forum," one of them went so far as to call Thomson "an idiot." This was a regrettable statement, primarily because the arguments against Thomson can stand without name-calling but also because unlike an idiot, Thomson knows exactly what he is doing.
The conscious policy of the HYRC president of urging Republican speakers to boycott the Political Forum is clear from the facts alone. In the fall, Thomson urged Senator Bricker not to speak before the Political Forum since, according to Thomson, the Senator's audience would be "stacked greatly against" the Bricker Amendment. Bricker subsequently turned the Forum invitation down, but claimed that he "didn't pay any attention" to Thomson's plea. For his second effort to undermine the Political Forum, Thomson found somebody in Washington who admitted paying attention. Apparently, Thomson's pressure on the Chairman of the national YRC speaker's bureau resulted in the cancellation of Bridges' talk at the College.
The HYRC head has not limited his activities to thwarting the Political Forum; he has also tried to take advantage of talks scheduled by the Conservative Club. Since he seems to operate under the theory that the HYRC has an option on any Republicans speaking before undergraduate groups, Thomson tried to persuade the Conservative Club to co-sponsor all its planned GOP talks. Failing to achieve this openly, Thomson now seems to have appealed to Washington for help. For when the past president of the Conservative Club sought to have Senator Bridges speak under its auspices, instead of the Political Forum's, the spokesman for the National Committee told him to "play ball with the HYRC and fix everything up with John Thomson."
These actions to undermine the activities of two groups flatly contradict the common-sense rules that should govern College groups. Above-board disagreement and rivalries are fine, but underhanded efforts to subvert another club's speakers and activities should certainly be prohibited. This is so obvious that it should not have to be repeated, but evidently there are those presently leading College organizations who do not accept common standards of fair play. If every group employed tactics similar to those of the Republican head, student activities would find speakers leaving Harvard to its bickering politicos.
To protect the standards of future College activities, the presidents of the clubs who had joined in sponsoring Bridges should send official protests to the Deans' Office. Since there is no formal prohibition in the "Rules for Undergraduate Organizations" against undermining another group's activities, it is likely that the Deans will take no official action. In that event, the Deans should certainly consider putting a provision into the "Rules" to prevent any further interclub tampering.
Action should not rest with the Deans and club presidents, however, for there are certainly many members of the Young Republican Club who would oppose the methods of its president. No one questions the need for an effective Republican viewpoint at the College, and it is the members of the HYRC who should mold that viewpoint. If the strength of the College's largest political organization must be based on such underhanded tactics, the HYRC had better do a little mending of its own foundations.