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Lace Curtain Council


For the third consecutive Wednesday, a group of Garden Street legislators yesterday retired behind a Lace Curtain to discuss highly classified material. Reporters were barred from news coverage of the strictly confidential topics. Participants were sworn to secrecy about the proceedings of the star chamber sessions.

In this manner, the elected representatives of the Radcliffe student body conducted portions of their past three meetings. At the first closed meeting, the Council members talked about the Student Government's foreign scholarship fund, which evidently is short of money. Last week's closed session, as leaks in the security system revealed, was a discussion of the current club merger proposal, an issue shrouded in secrecy by the Administrations and the Student Affiliation Committee as well as the 'Cliffe Student Council. Yesterday's off the record" portion was also on the organization plans.

All three times the President of the Council announced at the opening of debate that no comments should be covered by the CRIMSON or the Radcliffe News. On the club merger discussions, dormitory representatives were specifically instructed not to inform their constituents about the discussion. The Council was not asked to vote on the decision to close the meeting (Ordinarily, Radcliffe Council meetings are open to the public and the press, and representatives are expected to return to their dorms with a report of the meeting.)

If a meeting is to be closed, the decision for secrecy should certainly be made by a vote of the Council, with a majority or perhaps a two-thirds majority necessary to do so. The whole question of closed Student Council meetings, however, should be subjected to close scrutiny. A Student Council is an elected representative body of the students. It makes decisions on necessary, but hardly world-shaking, issues of college life. There are few justifications for keeping student government proceedings secret from the constituents.

Neither the scholarship nor the merger issue seem to require star chamber methods. The Council president suggested that open publicity on the foreign student scholarships might prove embarrassing to scholarship holders. This is highly dubious since the consideration was of the lack of funds and not of the individuals. Had the matter been made public, it is conceivable that students might have had a suggestion for augmenting the fund.

The club merger issue is another topic on which student discussion should be encouraged. The debate has become clouded by secrecy proceedings in the channels supposedly working on a solution, If the Administration refuses to make its views public, there is little that students can do. But student opinion should insist that the Student Council discuss the question openly.

If the Council--or its president--insists on continuing its new policy of closed meetings, it can only be construed as an attempt to keep the press out and keep its constituents in the dark. The opportunity to close meetings should be used sparingly, if at all, and should be voted upon by the members.

The Council has promised that next week's meeting will be "fair game" for press and representatives--that is, unless club merger is discussed.

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