Referendums Spark Council Rules Debate
Voting in the Houses continues today on two student referendums, but the Under graduate Council has already begun formal consideration of a constitutional amendment that would limit similar polls in the future.
As balloting opened yesterday many members of the council including Chairman Michael G. Colantuono the use of council sponsored referendums on issues not directly related to the University.
Last night, four out of five council representatives from Mather House reportedly threatened to boycott the administration of the referendum on the nuclear freeze and South Africa investments.
The fifth Mather representative, Craig S. McCrohan '84, said yesterday that he would personally hand out ballots today and Friday to allow the completion of voting there.
Under the council's constitution, student groups may initiate council-sponsored referendums by presenting the new student government with a petition signed by one-tenth of the undergraduate body--about 625 students
Several council members yesterday said, however, that the referendums even on general subjects--are an appropriate method of expressing student opinion
One council member said that the 10 percent petition requirement is a sufficient check on council sponsored polls. Proposals for limiting the referendums are "a way of limiting their [council members'] responsibility," she said
All of the workers at polling locations yesterday were council members
On Tuesday, the council's communications and finance committee preliminarily approved an amendment to the constitution that would prohibit council-sponsored polls on any subject that does not directly apply to either Harvard University, the council, or the student body, subcommittee members said.
The amendment will next go to the full council for consideration. It requires a two-thirds majority for passage.
In the first question currently being presented, students are asked whether they agree that the United States and the Soviet Union "must stop immediately and bilaterally all production and further deployment of nuclear weapons and reduce present nuclear arsenals." It was sponsored by the Peace Alliance and endorsed by four other groups.
The second referendum asks whether Harvard should divest its $6.5-million share of the Carnation Co., a milk and dairy products firm The South African Solidarity Committee brought it to the council after collecting more than 700 signatures.
Balloting was scheduled to begin yesterday during lunch and to continue during dinner hours. But at Mather, Lowell, and Eliot Houses, there was confusion that led to a reportedly low initial turnout
At many other Houses, including Leverett and Dunster House, poll workers said they were pleased with the relatively high numbers of students participating in the referendums
Many councilors contacted yesterday said they thought the referendum on the nuclear freeze was particularly inappropriate as a council activity
The question on divestment of stock in Carnation which has reportedly failed to adhere to a set of equal opportunity and fair labor guidelines--is valid because that is an area where the council has responsibility," said Peter N. Smith 83, council treasurer and a representative of Adam House
Voting is scheduled to end tomorrow