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Last week the Corporation invoked a twenty-seven year-old ruling to bon the local rugby team from playing in the Yale Bowl next Saturday. The ruling forbids "having athletic teams take part in any game...where the purpose is purely the earning of money for the University or anyone else." The Corporation applied this because the rugby team would have been playing for the benefit of the Connecticut Cerebral Palsy Association.
We have no disagreement with the reasoning behind this rule. The University does not equip and financially support athletic teams to provide sponsors with money making spectacles, no matter how worthy those sponsors may be.
But while this is a basically sound ruling, the Corporation made a mistake in applying it to the rugby team. The rugby team is not dependent on the University for its equipment, not for financial support, nor for anything else but the use of H.A.A. playing fields and some second hand boots left over from the House Football season. In effect, it is an independent undergraduate organization, and as such it should be able to use its talents in whatever legal manner it wishes.
Even if the University had agreed that it could not apply the Corporation ruling to the rugby team, it would still probably object to the principal of permitting undergraduate organizations to appear on commercially sponsored programs of any sort. It would object on the grounds that groups so doing would be selling out the "good name of Harvard" for the benefit of sponsors' profits.
And yet, do people who listen to scheduled college football games listen only because this or that college name is involved? Or do they listen because they are interested in a football team? The answer is obvious, and it applies to performances by independent undergraduate groups as well. People listen to or watch these-performances only because they represent good entertainment, not because of the prestige attached to the name of any institution.
The number of spectators and of sponsors as well interested in any particular undergraduate organization bears no relation to that organization's name. If the entertainment provided is inferior, the prestige of a name is meaningless, and whatever success any organization has is primarily due to its own ability.
For this reason we oppose the rule banning undergraduate organizations from radio and television as well as the Corporation's ruling on the rugby team. Certainly any undergraduate group wishing to use its talents for the benefit of charity or any other legal purpose should have the right to do so.
A further objection raised against the principle of permitting undergraduate groups to be commercially sponsored is based on the fear that the sponsors will control the groups involved. This is unlikely, however, since the organizations could make their own contracts. The possibility of any sponsor dictating to, say, the Harvard Band what music it could play on a particular program is as improbable an idea as that of the Texas Oil executives dictating to the Metropolitan Opera company what operas it could present on its weekly broadcasts
We hope that the Corporation will reconsider its method of protecting Harvard's Good Name in the light of the present times when everything from the United Nations to a Senate crime investigation is commercially sponsored. The Corporation should recognize that any undergraduate organization requested to perform on any sponsored program is invited requested to perform on any sponsored program is invited because of its own talents, not because its name includes the word "Harvard." It should recognize that, because the University is not responsible for the actions of undergraduate organizations, it has no right to limit the uses to which those organizations put their skills.
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