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To the Editors of The Crimson:
I am alarmed by the passive acceptance on the part of Harvard students to the unsuitable and devious fundraising proposal of PIRG.
For those of you who escaped the flood of PIRG propaganda, PIRG is a system of student-run, professionally-staffed public interest lobbies. I assume that their methods and goals are honorable and generally beneficial. However, I vehemently object to their proposed $3 dues checkoff on the term bill. Under the PIRG plan, it is assumed that a student wishes to donate to PIRG (and will be billed accordingly) unless the student checks off to the contrary. Donating to PIRG would be an act of omission and the burden would be incumbent upon those who do not believe PIRG to be a worthy cause.
The term bill is not the proper fundraising arena for student interest groups whether or not they are supported by the majority. I am sure that Harvard could reduce the term bill itself by running an advertising section on the term bill--but this would be highly improper. A term bill should reflect only the University's (and not some organization's) charges for matriculating at Harvard.
Why does PIRG wish to institute the check off rebate system and not the usual check off-if-you-want-to-donate method anyhow? Obviously, PIRG knows that there are many marginal patrons who would not be inclined to donate if a conventional approach were used. However, when confronted with the official Harvard bill and the implication that a donation is expected, many would submit to this taxation. I find this type of psychological manipulation and trickery most objectionable.
The Harvard PIRG chapter should first raise funds like any other student organization through mailings and appeals. Only then, when PIRG has proven itself financially responsible and morally aware should it be allowed a prominent position in the Harvard community.
As PIRG proponents Ms. Babic and Mr. Massad have stated (Nov. 14), "The real point is a democratic principle:" the (supposed) majority should not oppress the minority and the majority itself should not be misled by a minority interest group. This, indeed, "is an arrogant denial of students' rights". David Seth Cohen '80
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