Ask any member of Harvard's International Relations Council (IRC), and they'll tell you the IRC runs a stimulating and competent model United Nations; but they might not say the same for the IRC's internal politics and personnel.
For the last few years, the IRC has hobbled along a rocky road of corporate infighting and misunderstanding. Interviews with IRC members this past week indicate that once-divisive issues within the organization have finally begun to cool down. However, there are those who question the methods used for officer selection and the qualifications of current IRC officers.
One staff member, who asks not to be identified, puts it very clearly. "Promotion in the club is based solely on friendship, not administrative ability or knowledge of international relations," the board member says.
"It would be okay if it was an organization just to have a good time, but when you have groups paying money to participate in IRC functions, it has got to be different," the member adds.
Board member Samuel N. Levin '80 says "there are a lot of people on the board who are weak. Some are disillusioned and won't put in much time at all."
Wayne C. Forester '80, an IRC corporate member who resigned several weeks ago, explains that there "are factions on the board and lots of pressure was put on me." But Forester, who was U.N. chairman for the Special Political Committee on the Mideast Issue, says he still enjoys working on IRC-sponsored conferences. Other staffers echo his sentiments.
Martha G. Finnemore '81, another IRC board member, says the organization, up until recently, was split into two camps -- "the niceguy-organization view and the high-powered and ambitious view. A couple of weeks ago," Finnemore says, "I was upset enough to resign."
IRC Treasurer Frank Escobar '79 says the organization isn't plagued by old problems -- a long step from five years ago, when corporate members were punished by the Administrative Board for alleged misallocation of funds. Escobar admits that the two factions are there, "but like every organization," he explains, "you have personalities and there's going to be tension whenever a new team comes in."
The most serious charge of the malcontents, however, involves allegations of sexual politics. "The accusation that girls offered sexual favors in return for board positions are, in a sense, true," says one insider. "Many of the top-ranking girls are girlfriends of the top guys."
Charles Norchi '79, newly-elected IRC president, dismisses these charges. The allegations were started "by someone who was trying to get on the corporate board" last year, he says.
Finnemore offers a case example. "Sure, there are friendships at work," she says, but quickly adds "I am dating someone in the IRC but I was dating him before I joined." Other staffers reject these notions as well.
Last weekend's Harvard Model United Nations (HMUN) found some new IRC affiliates upset over the process of appointing staff people. "Everyone on the IRC is very into titles," says one, noting that positions in the model U.N. were distributed in some cases regardless of individual merit.
Emil A. Yappert '79, Secretary-General of last weekend's conference, says that because there are only 16 corporate members of the IRC -- three positions will be filled shortly -- there were 72 staff positions open to those outside the organization.
"Anybody who had the more important positions was given them by merit," Yappert says. "Most of the people," he adds, "who worked at the top were my friends, but they were competent. You have to have confidence in and be able to depend on these people."
Escobar says the complainers are those who wanted to be U.N. committee chairmen and were assigned as secretaries. "You're not going to please everybody," he notes