UC Struggles to Win Friends, Influence Policy

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"[The average student] can make as much changeas a [council] member and attend less meetingswhile they're at it," Danganan says.

Some council members disagree with this move,saying it relinquishes the last semblance ofcentralized student opinion.

"The question in my mind is accountability,"Seton says. "If the student representatives [onthe committees] aren't accountable to the studentbody, then how can we recall them if they oversteptheir bounds?"

Benjamin A. Rahn '99, also a member of CUE,says council membership did not seem to add anyweight to his words in committee.

"I don't think my position on the council givesme any added legitimacy in those meetings," Rahnsays. "What wins legitimacy is careful andthoughtful consideration of ideas."

James T.L. Grimmelmann '99, who left thecouncil but still serves on CUE and the StandingCommittee on the Core, says the lack ofaccountability Seton points to "has never workedto the detriment of the students."

"I've never seen anyone run for a committeethat wasn't sincerely interested in serving thestudents," Grimmelmann says.

But Seton argues that sincere interest does notalways produce the best representation.Grimmelmann recently proposed that the CUE Guideleave out recommendations for individual TFs, aproposal that Seton says "the council in generaldisapproved of."

The proposal has been retracted, but Seton saysthe potential for maverick committee work stillexists.

"The people on the student-faculty committeesshould be made accountable to the student body andthe [council]," he says.

The bill does provide for non-council membersto be recalled by a two-thirds vote of thecouncil's Student Affairs Committee. The recallprovision has not been used to date, and Stewartsays it would only be used in cases of "recklessdisregard for the interests of students."

By a Landslide

When the administration wants to disregardcouncil opinion, it only needs to point to theturnout for last fall's general elections.

For all contested elections, only 23 percent ofHouse residents voted. First-years in their firstweeks at Harvard had a far larger turnout ofaround 53 percent.

Uncontested elections--rubber-stamp votes inHouses with as many candidates as spots--probablycontributed to voter apathy. Winthrop House had aturnout around 10 percent, while 8 percent ofCabot and only 5.5 percent of Lowell voted.