Grape Vote Will Include Six Options

According to a preliminary ballot released yesterday afternoon by Harvard Dining Services (HDS), students will have not two but six options in the upcoming "Great Grape Referendum"--the juicy battle of culinary wills that has all but consumed the Harvard campus.

Students will have six choices from which to express their opinion on Friday, ranging from an absolute "No" to an absolute "Yes," with several "Limited Yes" options.

Alexandra McNitt, a project manager at HDS, said the "Limited Yes" voting options were added after students pointed out that not all table grapes are produced in California, and that foreign grape producers would not be subject to the United Farm Workers (UFW) boycott on California grapes that has been in effect since 1984.

According to Brad Woodgate, vice-president of Costa Fruit and Produce, which currently supplies fruit to HDS, any grapes Harvard purchases would come from California between late spring and late fall. During the rest of the year, grapes would come from Chile, due to seasonal availability in the northern and southern hemispheres.

"For at least half the school year," McNitt said, "we wouldn't be getting grapes from California anyway."

In addition, according to Mark Grossman, director of the UFW's press division and Cesar Chavez's press secretary from 1975 to 1993, there are approximately 300 grape workers who are union members. Any grapes picked by these workers would be exempt from the boycott.

To reflect the seasonal availability of grapes, and the possibility of serving grapes that do not fall under the the UFW boycott, HDS is offering students four additional voting options to express "limited" support for grapes. As of 5 p.m. yesterday, the tentative options were:

* "I support only the serving of Chilean grapes in the dining halls"

* "I support only the serving of Chilean grapes and organic grapes in the dining halls"

* "I support only the serving of California grapes in the dining halls if they are picked by a UFW member"

* "I support only the serving of California grapes in the dining halls if they are picked by a UFW member or [grapes that] come from Chile"

McNitt added that the number and wording of additional voting choices were still subject to further consideration before Friday's referendum.

The referendum will take place at undergraduate dining halls during lunch on Friday, and will be open to all students who are members of the meal plan, McNitt said.

In response to complaints from students who would not be present for the referendum--notably members of the Harvard football team, the Glee Club and the Band, who must leave early to prepare for The Game with Yale this weekend--HDS will issue "absentee ballots" on an individual basis to students who request them.

"I'm delighted that we're going to have a chance to participate," said Christopher D. Smith '98, a football player. "I know a lot of people who are going to be out of town on Friday, so it's nice that they make this option available to everyone."

"I'm a supporter of grapes, as a lot of people are," he added, "and I just wanted to have a chance to voice my opinion through a vote, just like any other student."

Students may ask dining hall managers for absentee ballot forms after 4 p.m. today, said McNitt. They must return the completed absentee ballots to a dining hall manager by 1 p.m. tomorrow to be counted in the final vote, she added.

The decision to offer absentee ballots was made early this week, said McNitt.

"We're hustling to get it done," she said.

HDS is taking several preventive measures to reduce the possibility of election fraud.

Although HDS has made efforts to present position papers from both the progrape and anti-grape sides, literature from one side has been deliberately stolen from several dining halls, possibly to prevent students from reading both perspectives, McNitt said.

The perpetrators have not yet been identified.

To prevent students from voting twice, HDS will record the ID numbers of students who submit absentee ballots. Those students will not be permitted to vote again on Friday.