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SOME PEOPLE JUST don't listen.
The Faculty will meet today in special session to consider once again a revamping of the oftencritized Committee on Rights and Responsibilities. Instead of attempting to reform an institution whose claims to legitimacy in the University community have long since been dashed, the Faculty should move promptly to abolish the CRR.
The CRR--which celebrates its third birthday this Fall--was established in the wake of the University Hall occupation to facilitate the political repression of student activists. After the 1969 upheaval, the Administration realized it could no longer discipline activists itself by using the Administrative Board, so it moved with the blessing of the Governing Boards to garner Faculty support. First the Committee of Fifteen, and then the CRR were established by the Faculty to implement a hastily written Resolution on Rights and Responsibilities.
To further legitimate its actions, the CRR ground rules called for undergraduates to select a student membership of four--from a total of 13--to the Committee. Realizing that the Faculty had tossed them a stacked deck, students have three times in the last two years failed to sanction the CRR in University-wide referenda. This clear expression of refusal by the vast majority of the Harvard community has prompted several feeble revisions in the CRR and the Resolution, none of which appreciably altered the distaste with which the Committee is viewed by radicals and moderates alike.
None of these student objections have shaken the resolve of the Faculty or the Administration. The CRR has continued serenely to operate without student representation. Its rules governing hearings are a mockery of established judicial procedure. Almost two hundred students have been disciplined by a body that permits the admission of hearsay evidence, is immune from judicial review, and uses explicitly political questioning in secret hearings--a practice which is totally inconsistent with the University's professed commitment to the values of free rational discourse.
EACH TIME THE RESOLUTION or the CRR have been amended or altered, the resulting product has infringed still further on student rights. In April 1970, for example the Resolution was amended to include "intense personal harrassment of such a character as to amount to grave disrespect for the dignity of others" as a violation requiring punishment. Just exactly what differentiates "intense harrassment" from mere "harrassment," or what constitutes "grave disrespect," is left to the CRR's discretion.
And now the Faculty will once more attempt to reform this Star Chamber. A motion presented by two members of last year's CRR will recommend that it permit Bonnie Blustein '72 to receive her diploma. Blustein--who had fulfilled all degree requirements--was not permitted to graduate in June because the CRR convicted her of participating in an antiwar sit-in at the Littauer Center May 10. We urge the Faculty to accept this motion. Denying Blustein her diploma was an act of spite which makes no sense even to the faulty logic of the CRR.
The Faculty will then move to consider a motion introduced by Professors Mendelsohn and Kafatos which recommends reforms in the CRR hearing process.
The resolution calls for
a reflection of the full spectrum of Faculty opinion in the selection of Faculty members for the CRR.
a renewed attempt to obtain student representation on the Committee.
open CRR hearings and
an explanation from the complainant about the basis of selection in complaints where only a small fraction of the participants in a disruption are named.
These reforms are not satisfactory. Although they clear up some of the CRR's worst excesses they fail to deal with the basic issue--the Resolution on Rights and Responsibilities the Committee was designed to implement. The Resolution is an ill conceived document which considers political actions out of context and is so vague that it gives its enforcing body virtually absolute discretion in deciding which actions will be punishable.
THE FACULTY WOULD BETTER spend its time in rewriting the Resolution to make it more explicit and then submitting the finished product to a University-wide referendum. To this end, students should write their own disciplinary rules and procedures, elect their own representatives and lobby the Faculty to accept their proposals. Students should also demand that every person already disciplined by the CRR be granted amnesty.
The CRR is so bankrupt that it can never be merely reformed. Its operation over the past three years has played a major part in undermining the atmosphere of trust in which any community is supposed to operate. The Faculty lost this trust by foisting the CRR on an unwilling student body. Only by completely abolishing this instrument of repression and working with students at all stages in the implementation of a new disciplinary procedure can the Faculty redeem itself.
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