At the height of student Vietnam War protests, Harvard in 1969 created the Committee on Rights and Responsibilities (CRR) to discipline students violating the faculty's resolution upholding individual freedoms and obligations, like freedom of speech and movement.
Last May, the Faculty Council revived the CRR--which had not heard a case since 1975--to decide the cases of about 18 students involved in two spring anti-apartheid protests, a sit-in at the home of Harvard's governing boards and a blockade of a South African diplomat at Lowell House.
Unlike the Administrative Board, the College's traditional disciplinary body made up of senior tutors and deans, the CRR allows students to serve as voting members, and defendants to defend themselves before the committee.
Yet throughout the 1970s, House committees refused to name student delegates to the CRR, charging it could punish students for their political beliefs without appeal to a higher body. Anti-apartheid protesters today continue to echo this sentiment.
In 1980, Harvard discontinued its annual request for student delegates to the committee but renewed the offer when the Faculty Council reactivated the CRR. Because of time constraints during what was then exam period, House committees refused to send delegates and instead asked for more time, a request that was denied.
The CRR is intended to be composed of six faculty members, six randomly chosen student delegates and one faculty chairman who votes only in the case of a tie. But because House committees have refused to name members, the CRR is empowered to proceed without student members.