SINCE 1970, students have refused to serve on the Committee on Rights and Responsibilities, a University body that disciplines students involved in political protest demonstrations. And students have boycotted the CRR for good reasons.
The CCR in its present form is unfair in both conception and procedure. Although it embodies the entire judicial process--it charges students, then tries and decides their cases--the CRR's procedures incorporate none of the usual judicial safeguards, It can deny students the right to counsel and admit hearsay evidence, but students can only appeal CRR decisions to the committee itself. While all the cases that come before the CRR involve students, its composition (seven Faculty members, four undergraduates, two graduate students, and one senior tutor) allows the Faculty to control the CRR's decisions.
But the CRR's problems run deeper than its structure. It was established in the wake of the 1969 student strike because the Faculty felt it had no adequate way to discipline students who occupied buildings and demonstrated to protest University policies. The committee's charter is a vaguely worded "Resolution on Rights and Responsibilities" that allows the CRR to discipline any student who "obstructs the normal processes and activities" of the University. Although there are serious iniquities in the CRR's structure and procedure, it has the power to expel students from the University in addition to several lesser punishments.
Despite this, students in Mather House voted last week by a margin of 122 to 111 to begin the process of nominating students to the CRR. Moves to end the student boycott of the CRR in 1971 and 1973 were not successful. This attempt should fail also. The Mater vote showed an amazing lack of knowledge about the CRR and its history. Students should be more informed about the issues involved in the boycott of the CRR and should continue the boycott.
THE DECISION OF whether to nominate Mather House representatives to serve on the CRR is now in the hands of a committee of 11 Mather students. That committee has the option of not nominating any students to the CRR, and it should exercise that option to preserve the boycott. Similarly, other House committees should decide not to nominate students to the CRR. Because each House may nominate two students for the CRR, only two Houses could fill the four student seats on the committee. It is therefore important that no Houses nominate students to the CRR.
The student boycott is not enough, however, to cure the ills of the CRR, since the committee continues to exist and function without student representation. Last spring, for example, the CRR ruled on the cases of six students involved in the DuBois Institute Student Coalition's May sit-in outside President Bok's office. The students, who should have been found innocent, were declared guilty of interfering in the operation of the University and had letters of reprimand placed in their files as punishment.
The CRR as it is presently constituted should be abolished. Until it is abolished, however, students must refuse to serve on the committee. The continued boycott should serve as a reminder to the Faculty that the CRR is unfair and objectionable to students, should convince it to abolish the CRR.