Dean Watson's attempt to remove Mary Gillmor from the presidency of the Harvard-Radcliffe Socialist Club was ill-conceived, ill-considered, and illogical. It was also inexcusable.
In asking Miss Gillmor, a special student, to step down, Watson told her that only students in the College can be officers of undergraduate organizations. But, in fact, Miss Gillmor has every right to her office since the Regulations for Undergraduate Organizations state only that "a majority of the members and a majority of the officers must be undergraduates." Watson's arbitrary misrepresentation was conduct unbefitting a Harvard dean.
When confronted with the contradiction, Watson replied that he thought the Faculty Committee on Student Activities would change the rule in the near future. We can only hope that Watson was trying to excuse his mistake and that a rule change is not imminent. As long as a person is a member of the Harvard community, be he undergraduate, graduate, or special student, an organization should have freedom to choose him as an officer.
Dean Watson apparently feels that graduate or special students are a particularly evil breed, because, to use his word, they will "manipulate" undergraduate activities. To us, that view seems palpably nonsensical.