Republicans, Gays on Constitution
To the Editors of The Crimson:
The Crimson's reporting of the Harvard-Radcliffe Gay Students' Association's and the Harvard Republican Club's policy statements regarding the Constitutional Convention is deplorable and demands clarification.
The Harvard Republican Club does not, as implied by Friday's Crimson, withdraw its observation that a student government will likely result in a term-bill charge. The fact remains that the Constitutional Convention early in deliberations studied student organizations at other schools and discovered that the most effective student governments collected revenues from students in the form of mandatory charges. Michael Calabrese, Convention chairperson, was asked at the conclusion of a South House town meeting how the proposed government would be funded; he answered that they would try to raise money through dances, movies and the like, but would probably have to turn to a mandatory term charge, similar to the system at the University of Colorado, which annually levies a $55 charge on its students. We were told of this discussion by South House residents Mike Dasaro, David Schultz and a third, who wishes to remain anonymous. In a conversation with the president of the Republican Club, South House Convention delegate Steve Winthrop admitted term bill additions might be necessary to support an effective student government, mentioning the student tax levied at Stanford University. Most importantly, such a tax is not prohibited by the Constitution in its present form. Neither club ever insisted that the Constitution will tax students, but the available evidence suggests an effective government will require such payments.
It is unfortunate that The Crimson's articles should deflect attention from the more important issue: quotas in elected office. The Convention officers claim the reserved seats are in accordance with Department of HEW guidelines, yet HEW guidelines would also allow special representation for handicapped and older people, both of which are present at Harvard-Radcliffe. It is our belief, however, that Harvard-Radcliffe is not only divided along racial lines and that other groups deserve affirmative action: Jewish students were asked to register for classes on a holy day a year ago, science concentrators would be required to take extra courses under the new Core Curriculum, commuter students were asked to return to large classes during the storm before public transportation was fully restored, and if any single group at Harvard-Radcliffe needs their acceptance reaffirmed it would have to be lesbians and gay men.
The Harvard-Radcliffe Gay Students Association does not condemn the constitution simply because lesbians and gay men were denied representation. The Association objects to the failure of the Convention to establish explicit criteria for determining what groups qualify for special representation. The Association believes that the Convention debate was conducted in an atmosphere of power politics, and not with a genuine concern for fairness to minority or disadvantaged groups.
Also, we are disturbed by the differential treatment accorded anti-constitution news by The Crimson. It is inexcusable that the HRGSA resolution was reported a full week after it was passed and the Republican Club resolution was reported three days after it was approved; yet the Democratic Club's pro-constitution resolution was reported the day after it was passed. The HRGSA and Republican Club resolutions were reported on page five of The Crimson; rebuttal from a Convention delegate was included (response to the rebuttal was given to a reporter, but she did not include it). The Democratic Club's resolution was reported on page one--not only without rebuttal, but without mention of a dissenting minority statement.
Friday's story, by J. Wyatt Emmerich, implied (beginning with its headline, "Republican Club Admits Error in Accusation") that the Club had withdrawn its objections to the Constitution. This is completely inaccurate and is the shoddiest piece of journalism we have ever seen: interviews with two Republican Club officers were attributed to one person, no one was quoted accurately or meaningfully and despite what Emmerich reported, neither the Republican Club nor the HRGSA has ever met with Mike Desaulniers, or even heard of him, and if anyone deserves an apology, it is he.
The Club's objection, that the constitution fails to explicitly provide for funding, and might turn to term bill charges, remains valid.
Furthermore, Emmerich failed to note the fact that the funding problem is only one of seven problems the Club sees in the Constitution. The Republican Club also objects to the special representation provision of the Constitution--both in principle, because it awards extra votes to some students, and as applied, because it arbitrarily excludes certain deserving groups.
Included in the policy statement are objections concerned with procedural provisions in the Constitution which would unduly isolate the student assembly from student opinions, and which might make election of assembly officers chaotic.
The proposed student government is an important issue that demands intelligent deliberation by the student body. Inherently necessary to that deliberation is correct information regarding the Constitution and its implications. --Chuck Fraser '78 President, Harvard-Radcliffe Gay Students Association --Kathy Duey '79 President, Harvard Republican Club