TODAY'S WORK stoppage on behalf of the demands of the Union of graduate students and teaching fellows reflects the concerns and needs of undergraduates as well. The specific Union demands underscore one issue crucial to all--whether students shall have a voice in making the educational and financial policies affecting their lives at Harvard University.
Throughout the debate over teaching fellows' salaries, the University has refused to discuss candidly the policies behind the seemingly arbitrary decisions to increase graduate students' tuition and to decrease staff tuition scholarships. The strategy underlying this secrecy is clear--if students are denied detailed knowledge of Harvard's true economic position, the University can justify any decision on vague grounds of "financial necessity."
It is essential for undergraduates as well as for graduate students that the University meet the Union's demand for full disclosure of Harvard's operating budget. Only a close look at Harvard's financial records could clearly explain--or belie--the alleged need to raise tuition 5200 yearly the rationale behind cutbacks in spending for the Houses, and the reasons for the considerable inequities in per capita spending for students in the natural sciences as opposed to the social sciences and humanities. There is no reason to accept the administration's word on such policies. Opening Harvard's books is the necessary first step in opening up the decision making process itself.
Equally important for undergraduates is the Union's central demand to maintain teaching fellows' income. Cuts in pay or increases in the workload of teaching fellows would seriously impair the system of undergraduate tutorials, decreasing the quality and intimacy of Harvard education. The Union has made it clear that its salary demands must not be met through an increase in undergraduate tuition or class size.
UNDERGRADUATES should take advantage of several avenues open for expressing support for the graduate students and teaching fellows. Discussion groups will be held with teaching fellows throughout the day, at which undergraduates may learn more about the issues under contention. Ad hoe groups for the support of Union demands should aid in the coordination of strike activities and circulate statements in sympathy with the Union. Most of all, undergraduates should help man Union picket lines and stay away from classes to demonstrate their feelings.
The energies and organizational efforts on which this work stoppage must draw may lead to better coordinated undergraduate actions on their own issues and on possible future demands of the Graduate Student and Teaching Fellow Union. By picketing today, Harvard and Radcliffe undergraduates can help establish collective action as a tool for creating change and assist the graduate students and teaching fellows to realize their legitimate rights.