A Winthrop for the Student Assembly

News Profile

Stephen V. R. Winthrop '80, the new chairman of the new Student Assembly, is a successful politician.

His record is 3-0. He has yet to lose a political election, despite his claims that he is a neophyte at persuading people to elect him to things.

Winthrop, contrary to what many people may suspect, was never involved in student politics at his high school. But his inexperience hasn't hurt him at Harvard. Winthrop is presently chairman of the South House Committee and vice-president of the Democratic Club.

He appeared to be quite adept at fielding questions and making coherent speeches when he ran for the Student Assembly post last Thursday.

Winthrop was the first to speak before the Student Assembly during the election on Thursday and he impressed the group with his casual manner and articulate, confident style of speaking.


Winthrop thinks the first issues the assembly should address are recognition of the assembly, Harvard's investments in South Africa, funding, and getting the assembly on its feet. Winthrop is ambivalent on the issue of Harvard's South African investments, and said he has been impressed by advocates for both sides of the controversy.

'Taking Care of Business'

A smooth style was not the only factor in the election. Winthrop had done his homework. He had talked to many of the assembly's delegates before its meeting Thursday.

Winthrop denies that he did much active campaigning before the election. "I talked to the people I know, and I just happen to know a lot of people," Winthrop said after the election.

Winthrop--a descendant of John Winthrop, the first governor of Massachusetts, and a distant cousin of the John Winthrop who served as president of Harvard in the late 18th century--campaigned with the promise of deemphasizing the role the chairman will play in directing the Student Assembly.

In fact, Winthrop says he feels the chairmen of some of the more powerful Student Assembly committees will have more influence than he will have chairing the Student Assembly proceedings.

The new chairman will have the most influence over the assembly in his role as spokesman of the group--a role designated to the chairman in the constitution.

Winthrop eschews the role as spokesman for the entire assembly. "Frankly, I'm frightened by the idea of one person controlling the flow of information because if that one person is leaning one way or the other it could be very destructive to the outcome of that issue," he said.

Winthrop, who holds degrees from both Andover and Milton Academies, is no radical. He describes himself politically as a Democrat, and is against the constitution's controversial minority clause.

However, Winthrop is sure that he wants the assembly to succeed. He was an active member of the convention last year and plans to spend much time this semester seeing that it succeeds.