A Constitution

Including Minority Representation

For more than a week, a small group of students representing a number of campus organizations met to discuss and finalize a constitution for the proposed student government, the Harvard-Radcliffe Undergraduate Council.

Because of what they deemed the sensitive nature of some of the subjects they were discussing--mainly the issue of assured representation for minorities--members of the constitution committee decided to close their meetings to the press.

A week of sketchy information followed, as members of the committee steadfastly refused to reveal the specific results of their meetings, saying only that they were optimistic that a decision would be reached in the near future.

And then, Tuesday night, the speculation ended, when the committee released a constitution proposal that included provisions for automatic minority voting rights on the council's executive committee.

The proposal calls for seven campus minority groups to share a total of two votes on the executive committee. The votes would be counted in addition to the nine executive voting members stipulated in the Dowling Report.

The constitution proposal is now circulating among representatives of many campus groups, including the Student Assembly, the now-inactive Committee on Houses and Undergraduate Life, and chairmen of the various House Committees.

After these and other groups have reviewed the proposal, the Faculty and administration will review it, and, finally, if no serious objections have been raised, the constitution will go before the student body in a general vote.

One important question the constitution committee did not resolve during its meetings last week was what kind of student majority would be required to ratify the proposal, assuming it reaches that stage.

Some members said a straight majority of the entire student body should be required to pass the proposal. Others, citing a low projected turnout for the voting, said only two-thirds of the students who vote--not necessarily a majority of the student body--should be required.

But whatever the method for ratification, opinion remains divided about the proposal's chances of passing a general student vote. Andrew B. Herrmann '82, chairman of the constitution committee, and Leonard T. Mendonca '83, chairman of the Student Assembly, said last week they thought the constitution would pass.

But John E. Dowling '57, professor of Biology and author of the Dowling Report, said this week he did not think students would support assured minority representation on the council. He added that such a proposal would be "contrary to the spirit of the Dowling Report."