As the war escalated in Southeast Asia and protests heated up on college campuses, Harvard in 1969 created the Committee on Rights and Responsibilites (CRR) to discipline students who violated the individual freedoms of others.
The CRR is completely distinct from the Administrative Board, the College's regular disciplinary body. Senior tutors and deans sit on the "Ad Board," which adjudicates infractions of College rules ranging from failure to file study cards on time to disputes between roommates.
The legislation governing the CRR, however, allows for six students to sit together with the seven faculty members who serve on the committee. One of the faculty members serves as chairman, voting only when necessary to break ties.
In contrast with the Ad Board, which does not allow students to be present when their cases are discussed, the CRR allows students charged with violating the rights of others to defend themselves in person, to cross examine their accusers, and to call witnesses.
Few of the more than 370 students charged before the CRR have appeared before the body, and the Houses have consistently refused to send students to serve on the committee. In refusing to co-operate with the CRR, students have charged the University uses the committee to quash disruptive political beliefs.
When the College revived the long-dormant committee last spring to hear cases stemming from South Africa-related protests, house committees once again refused to send delegates, and only five of 18 defendents appeared at their own hearings.
This year, a majority of the houses have refused University requests for delegates, with several withholding a final decision until the outcome of a faculty review.
That review, which is being conducted by faculty members and administrators, is expected to offer recommendations for reform sometime this year. Dean L. Fred Jewett '57, who heads the review team, says the faculty will probably not act on the recommendations before next year.