Petition Drive on U.C. Reaches 150 Signatures

About 150 students have already signed a petition that could reverse the Undergraduate Council's recent term bill hike and reform its election process, according to Anjalee C. Davis '96, the petition's organizer.

The petition calls for a Collegewide student referendum on five issues. If the petition is signed by ten percent of Harvard's registered undergraduates--663 students, according to Davis--the council's constitution requires that it hold the referendum.

According to that constitution, the council can only reverse a student referendum's decision with a three-quarters vote.

Davis said she is "expecting the council to do something to subvert this."

"Let's face it," Davis said. "They're going to try every trick in the book to keep this from going to a vote. They're not going to do this voluntarily."

But the council's secretary, Brandon C. Gregoire '95 said the council will not attempt to fight the referendum.

"If she gets the signatures, we're bound by our constitution to pick up the referendum," Gregoire said. "We're not going to use deceptive means to get around this even if we're not friendly to some of the issues begin addressed."

The petition drive was initiated by Davis on the Thursday before spring break.

Davis, a former council member who is taking the semester off to volunteer in a political campaign, said she has gone door to door in North House and approached students in the Yard for their signatures.

A "couple of other people" have helped gather signatures, she said.

"The momentum is building," Davis said. "For so few people to be around and [for us] to get to many signatures in three hours is great."

Davis is optimistic that the peti- tion drive will succeed by the middle of thisweek. She has set Wednesday as her target date forcollecting the remaining 500 signatures.

Davis says she carefully planned and timed thepetition drive so that the council can't subvertit.

"It's air-tight," Davis said of the petition."It really is. I spent months looking over theby-laws."

Davis said the council could potentially avoidthe referendum by amending its constitution. Butsuch amendments are supposed to be presented onweek before they are debated and considered, shesaid.

Gregoire vehemently defended the council,saying the body is unlikely to try to amend itsconstitution just in time to counter the petition.

"That's preposterous," Gregoire said. "Does shethink we have no common sense? How bad would thatmake us look?"

Two of the issues addressed by the petitiondeal with election reform. The referendum wouldlet students vote on popular election of thecouncil president, vice president, secretary andtreasurer as well as semiannual generalelections.

Currently, council executives are elected bycouncil members and general elections occur once ayear.

Students would also get to vote on two mattersdealing with council finances: last month'samendment to the by-law allowing the council tokeep all unspent funds at the end of each academicyear, rather than distributing them to housecommittees; and last year's council decision toeliminate the option to check a box on the termbill and thus waive most of the council fee.

Davis said she plans to present the petition tothe council at its April 10 meeting. It thepetition succeeds, the referendum will be helpApril 19-21