Closed Meetings

THE MAIL

To the Editors of The Crimson:

When I decided to run for a position on the Undergraduate Council, it was with the expectation that such an organization could accomplish a great deal. I saw the Council as representing in a unified body a diversity of student ideas and interests. What is gradually evolving as the policy of the Undergraduate Council, however, represents nothing of the sort.

I refer, of course, to the continuing debate over whether meetings of the Standing Committee should be open or closed. As representative to the Committee on College Life. I voted to keep the meetings closed, feeling that this would facilitate freer discussion and make the meetings more productive. All but two of the members presents were agreed in this opinion. Since that time, the question has been discussed again and again, and the same points brought up every time.

While the issue is an important one, what is more important is the underlying question of representation. The Undergraduate Council is a representative body. The question here is what it means to be a representative. I was elected to serve a constituency of over 350 students, and my job, first and foremost, is to reflect the views and concerns of the students who elected me. The prevailing forces on the Council wish to prevent me from doing this.

Various members of the Council, who disagree with my stand on whether College Life committee meetings should be conducted "behind closed doors," have been outspoken in then disapproval. Many have even gone so far as to say that any Standing Committee member who doesn't vote as they tell him to vote should be removed. The very idea that one could be pulled from a Standing Committee for voting according to one's conscience makes pointless the entire concept of having representative government.

Having spoken with other members of the Council. I know that I'm not the only one who is outraged by the kind of blatant coercion threatened by the Council.

To argue that this issue is somehow different from any other, and therefore merits the kind of arm-twisting advocated by many Council members, is a pretty weak excuse. Clearly, the procedures decided upon the Standing Committees will stand as powerful precedents in years to come. But in advocating active constraint to force the votes of its representatives, the Council will be setting a precedent far more dangerous and far more threatening to its reputation and perhaps, its very existence. Catherine D. Thomas '84