Disputes May Delay Referenda Results

Dudley, Mather Residents Question Procedure

Disagreements over balloting procedures in two Houses may delay the results of campus-wide referenda on the nuclear freeze and on Harvard investments in South Africa.

Students from Mather and Dudley House, in separate complaints, have asked the Undergraduate Council, which is administering the referenda, to extend voting past today's deadline because of confusion over the balloting.

Council officials, however, said last night that any extensions for either House would be brought up in the general Council meeting on Sunday but added that it was unlikely that the requests would be granted.

Four Mather House representatives are asking for an extension of one extra meal for the voting, which they said was plagued by early mixups among their delegation. The request cites a "discouraging" attitude among poll takers Wednesday, who disagreed with the referenda. The four delegation members decided Wednesday night to become aggressive in soliciting votes because they said that Mather representation was being hurt. Another meal for voting could rectify the situation, they said.

Several Mather Council members originally opposed referenda, calling it "an improper use of the Council," which could be used as a regular polling resource for political groups at Harvard, according to Caroline Lip-son '84. However, the opponents decided to actively solicit votes as one member said, "because it was too much trouble to fight the Council."

Madi Hirschfeld '83 of Dudley House registered a complaint with the Council yesterday, asking to extend the polling in Dudley because of a lack of publicity for the voting. "The House has been virtually excluded from voting," she added.

Dudley House has had a difficulty obtaining votes from affiliates, which Dudley Council Representative Paul Palmer '84 attributed to making the referenda accessible to all or most of the House.

"Unlike at the residential Houses, most people in Dudley have no reason to go to the dining room, where the balloting is being held," Palmer said. He plans to present a petition to the Council to have future balloting from Dudley conducted by mail, the only method he considers would fairly represent Dudley.

Sesha Pratap '84, Chairman of the Communications Committee of the Council, which is in charge of the polling, said yesterday that he doubted that the petitions would be granted. He added, "This would be a bad precedent: we made a decision and if turnout was low we cannot be held accountable."

At most of the other Houses, balloting continued smoothly yesterday, although in some Houses, turnout was low because of the Oxfam fast. Voting at the other Houses was estimated from a third to a half.

Pratap said that his committee would submit amendments to the full Council on Sunday to change the rules governing referenda. The amendment, if passed, would not permit any Council-sponsored referendum on any topic not directly applying to either the University, the council, or the student body. The amendment would need two-thirds majority for passage.