RUS Debates Male Suffrage

Women's Group Holds Second of Three Meetings to Discuss Voting for Men

Claiming that the group's membership policy discriminates against men, several students called for the admission of men as voting members of the Radcliffe Union of Students (RUS) last night.

During an RUS meeting devoted to their proposal, the students said that because the organization has grant-making power, its all-female membership policy is particularly wrong.

"Radcliffe is so integrally tied to Harvard students that all Harvard students should have the choice to be a voting member," Robert W. Yalen '95, former director of the Civil Liberties Union of Harvard, said at last night's meeting.

But opponents of male membership said the social aspects of RUS, which is Radcliffe College's student government, and the "warm and fuzzy" quality of the meetings would be destroyed if men were allowed to become members.

"There are a lot of women who feel that there is a necessity to have a strictly women's space," RUS co-president Megan E. Lewis '95 said.

But advocates of the change responded that the ability of RUS to offer grants makes it far more than a social group. And for that reason, they said, exclusion of men is unfair.

"Form a club and meet in a dorm, but don't have $14,000 to come and eat cookies," said E. Michelle Drake '97, referring to the RUS budget. "I don't understand why grant-giving should be tied to social considerations."

Some students who attended yesterday's meeting suggested a possible compromise: separating RUS in two organizations with one serving as a co-ed grant-making body and anoth- er as an all-female discussion group.

Last night's meeting concluded without adecision on how the proposal to admit men would bejudged. RUS officers said they would work onpossible ways to make a decision and would presentalternatives at a later meeting.

One RUS voting member, who spoke on conditionof anonymity, said the group should concentrate onexpanding female membership before considering theadmission of men. Then, the proposal to admit menshould be put to a Radcliffe wide vote.

"Our top priority should be getting betterrepresentation of women," the RUS member said.

Currently, every woman enrolled inHarvard-Radcliffe is a member of the RUS andcharged five dollars on her term bill, unless shespecifically requests not to be charged.

Any Harvard-Radcliffe undergraduate woman cangain status as a voting member by attending twoRUS meetings, held at 7 p.m. on Thursday in theLyman Common Room. Twenty-five people attendedlast night's meeting.

Men are currently welcome to attend to weeklymeetings, but are not allowed to participate invotes which determine distribution of funds orRUS's official position on campus issues, Lewissaid.

"RUS functions as a voice for women, and manywomen don't want that voice to be spoken by men,"RUS co-president Anne Guiney said.