Lobbying for the Lewis Motion

We encourage student groups to engage in discussions about social group policy

Following the new faculty motion to reverse College sanctions on unrecognized single-gender social organizations introduced by Computer Science professor and former Dean of the College Harry R. Lewis ’68, several recognized student organizations have announced plans to lobby professors to support the Lewis motion. These groups, including the Harvard Republican Club, plan to reach out to professors individually to explain why they believe sanctioning unrecognized social clubs is a violation of the freedom of association.

We fully believe in the right of students to lobby their faculty members on issues related to campus life. We have often opined on the need to incorporate student perspectives into major decisions affecting College life, and we continue to support students who communicate their concerns with professors.

However, while we fundamentally accept that groups such as the Harvard Republican Club have a right to engage in these conversations, this is an odd issue for them to fixate on. Sanctions on unrecognized social organizations are a deeply divisive topic on campus, and it seems unusual that groups not directly affected by these sanctions would ask their membership to actively lobby against them. It seems more rational to have students reach out to professors individually if they have a personal stake in the status of unrecognized social groups. Recognized student organizations have no such stake, and thus may not be the most effective or logical advocates on the subject.

Any time that a student organization decides to adopt a clear stance on a controversial issue, it is essential that the vast majority of its membership wholeheartedly supports that decision. We would hope that these student groups took the time to ensure that all their members’ voices were heard before deciding to use their organizational clout to influence professors. However, it is difficult for us to interpret the process that went into these organizations’ decisions, given that they have primarily chosen to keep their names undisclosed.

Indeed, we question why five of the six student groups claiming to lobby against these sanctions have declined to have their names released. Given that these groups feel so strongly about this cause, it seems hypocritical to then refuse to publicly tie their names to the stance they are taking. We welcome productive, respectful campus debate on the sanctions policy, but by remaining nameless, these organizations are hindering that conversation.

As these primarily unnamed organizations begin to lobby faculty members, we hope that professors are able to listen fairly to the plethora of student voices on the new sanctions policy. It will shape the experiences of all Harvard undergraduates, and an appropriate decision must weigh each student’s interests equally, rather than defaulting to the loudest voices in the room.

This staff editorial solely represents the majority view of The Crimson Editorial Board. It is the product of discussions at regular Editorial Board meetings. In order to ensure the impartiality of our journalism, Crimson editors who choose to opine and vote at these meetings are not involved in the reporting of articles on similar topics.

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