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Open Meetings


ONE WEEK after punishing nearly 100 students for trying to sit in the gallery during a Faculty meeting, the Faculty is now going to reconsider its rules on attendance.

As the Faculty tabled a variously interpreted motion by Dean Ford last week, it seemed ready to make a change in the rules. Several Faculty members said at the time that they wanted to see what the Student-Faculty Advisory Council would recommend.

SFAC, on Thursday, passed a resolution which was a mixture of good sense and compromise politics. The SFAC recommendation, drafted by Charles F. Sabel '69, and Alan E. Heimert, associate professor of English, would require the dean to open the gallery to students at the request of a Faculty committee, including SFAC, or at the request of HUC, HRPC, RUS, or GSA. The SFAC resolution also asked the dean to designate certain students to speak at Faculty meetings upon the request of any Faculty committee, including SFAC.

On the question of speaking at Faculty meetings, SFAC's position is the best that can be done so long as the Faculty makes the decisions and students are peripheral to the process. If any student in the gallery were allowed to speak at a meeting, the chairman of the meeting (Ford or President Pusey) would be limited because of time restrictions to recognizing one or two of the many enthusiastically raised hands. As a result, some student positions might be overrepresented while others might receive no voice at all. And most students who went intending to speak would trek home disappointed. Once it is decided that restriction is necessary, a single clearing-house seems to be administratively convenient, and SFAC is the best clearing-house because its student members are elected and it is a Faculty committee.

On the issue of opening the galleries, however, the SFAC resolution is a pointless concession to a moldy Faculty tradition. Instead of requiring one or another student organization to request open meetings week after week, the Faculty should vote to open all meetings to a non-participating gallery of persons affiliated with the University except when the Faculty at a previous meeting votes to make a portion of it closed.

It is not entirely clear why the Faculty should ever want to close a portion of a meeting. The idea certainly cannot be to keep what transpires a secret, for word-of-mouth and the CRIMSON's artificial reconstruction of the meeting with Dean Ford's help make the goings-on more or less public property. But assuming the Faculty wants such an option, it should be one the Faculty exercises in special cases rather than a standard which students must repeatedly petition their way around.

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