The CRR and Lit. Crit.


To the Editors of The Crimson:

"All members of the community--students and officers alike--should uphold the rights and responsibilities expressed in this Resolution if the University is to be characterized by mutual respect and trust." ("Resolution on Rights and Responsibilities," in Undergraduate Regulations and Services 1976-77, p. 11)

Thus concludes the "Resolution on Rights and Responsibilities" voted on April 10, 1970 by the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. Implicit in it is basic equality for all members of the University in "free expression, free inquiry, intellectual honesty, respect for the dignity of others, and openness to constructive change." (Ibid.) Self-determination and self-governance are the guarantors of such equal freedom, and the machinery set up to protect the University community from disruption of its members' academic pursuits should reflect these qualities. People's rights are best protected when they themselves participate in the government established for them. That is the basic philosophy of democratic government. Likewise, the people know best what constitutes an infringement on their rights and what measures will best serve to counter such infringement.

The Committee on Rights and Responsibilities, the body constituted to enforce the Resolution on Rights and Responsibilities, subverts this implicit equality. First, its disciplinary authority is limited to "cases involving student violations." ("Committee on Rights and Responsibilities," December 15, 1976, p. 1) In cases against Faculty members or administrators it serves only as an advisory body, with only its Faculty members participating. Second, its composition favors Faculty opinion over students' by a seven to six majority, destroying the sense of equality implied in the Resolution. Third, the Faculty members of the committee are elected by the Faculty, while student members are chosen at random; thus Faculty choice of the character of their arbiters is preserved while student choice is denied.

The sentiment behind this set-up is revealed when it is written; "A disciplinary committee of the Faculty established to interpret and enforce a statement of principles..." (Ibid., p. 2, emphasis added) No mention is made of student right to interpret the supposed "principles," though these principles champion equality among all members of the academic community.


The majority of the Faculty apparently agree with Professor James Q. Wilson's statement at the December 12, 1972 meeting of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences to the effect that it is "a radical misconception" "that a university is a community of equals." ("Minutes of Faculty of Arts and Sciences Meeting," December 12, 1972, p. 8)

It is in the face of statements like those that members of the Freshman class are acting to continue the boycott of the Committee on Rights and Responsibilities. Until there is some expression by a significant number of the Faculty that they are willing to honestly stand by their affirmation on April 10, 1970 in the Resolution on Rights and Responsibilities of equality among the academic community of Harvard University, I feel that students will rightly see participation on the CRR as pointless and hypocritical. I feel that if the Faculty are not going to act on their espoused beliefs, they should cease the espousal of those beliefs. Therefore I feel that if the Faculty continue to refuse students equality in the administration of their common rights, the Faculty should repudiate the present Resolution on Rights and Responsibilities and replace it with one accurately reflecting their views of Faculty supremacy. Walter R. Mebane, Jr. '79-3

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