UNDERGRADUATES--most of whom have never heard of the Commission of Inquiry--will be able this week to attend two hearings to discuss the Commission's activities and structure.
Created to assure fair hearings on student and Faculty complaints, the Commission has been unable to perform effectively for several reasons. First, little effort was made to draw students' attention to the Commission as an avenue of appeal. Second, the Commission was never empowered to change unfair decisions. Its members haven't even established the extent of the Commission's powers of recommendation. Third, and most basic, no one with complaints on matters of broad policy--such as the University's refusal to sell its Gulf stock, the lack of student input in selecting tenured Faculty, or the determination of tution and financial aid schemes for graduates and undergraduates--could believe the Commission would have any effect in resolving those problems.
At hearings before the Committee to Re-examine the Commission of Inquiry to be held Tuesday, March 20 and Thursday, March 22, students should insist that the Faculty implement those changes necessary to turn the Commission into an effective ombudsman-like body.
Equal numbers of students and Faculty must serve on the Commission. The Commission should assign ad hoc student groups to study grievances that come before it. There must be some guarantee, in principle at least, that the recommendations of the Commission will be implemented in policy. The Commission must deal with "grievances" in the broadest sense, including questions of Administration or departmental unresponsiveness on issues of financial or educational policy.
But most of all, students should impress upon the Committee the need to redesign the Committee on Rights and Responsibilities alongside the Commission on Inquiry. Unless all sides fairly reconsider how the structure elaborated in the Resolution on Rights and Responsibilities can be redesigned to insure a mutual recognition of rights and an effective means of achieving redress, no one is likely to take any reform in the Commission seriously.