Students Lobby Faculty on Gay Rights

Will Resubmit Measure to Faculty Council

Members of the Gay and Lesbian Students Association (GI SA) are quietly working this term to garner Faculty and administration support for a second attempt this spring to get Faculty approval for a formal policy of non-discrimination toward gay students, leaders of the group said yesterday.

The Faculty Council rejected such a non-discrimination policy, which currently exists at nine of Harvard's 11 schools, in May 1981 after a five-month student effort to secure its passage.

"In politics, quiet is a pejorative term," Sarah E. Yedinsky '83, an organizer of the new effort, said yesterday, adding that the group is "laying extensive groundwork" for its upcoming campaign before the Faculty Council.

Robert Mealy '85, co-chair of the group, said yesterday that members are now focusing on "a few professors we know to be sympathetic," and will try to line up significant support before bringing the measure to the Council.

A major reason for the quiet lobbying is GLSA members fear that their cause cannot afford a second highly publicized defeat at the Faculty Council, Mealy said.


Members are also preparing a pamphlet on non-discrimination policy which will represent their position on the issue, and are preparing to ask the Undergraduate Council to pass a resolution calling on the Faculty Council to adopt such a measure.

"This is not so much the calm before the storm as simply trying to figure out the most successful method of getting a non-discrimination policy," Jenny W. Rudolph '84, the other GLSA co-chair, said yesterday.


In addition to meeting with Faculty and administrators, the GLSA is working with sympathetic alumni, and members are considering approaching Corporation members and members of the Board of Overseers directly.

"Harvard does listen more to its alumni than to its students," Mealy said of the newly formed alumni group. Members of that group met with John B. Fox '59, dean of the College, to discuss the status of gay undergraduates, and have helped to fund some of the GLSA's efforts.

If the group does approach members of the Board of Overseers and Corporation directly, members say they will base their strategy on that used by the Radcliffe Union of Students, who recently have been culling support among those groups for some modification of current procedure on sexual harassment.

GLSA members said they will focus in particular on corporation members and overseas who work for campanies with their own non-discrimination policies toward gay employees. About one-third of the Fortune 500 companies now have such policies, Mealy said.


Until a non-discrimination policy is adopted. Yedinsky said group members are negotiating with Archie C. Epps III, dean of students, to include a copy of a statement opposing harassment of gays in freshman registration packet and next year's Handbook for Students.


That statement, which the Faculty Council approved in June 1981 after rejecting a non-discrimination policy, needs wider circulation because gay students are still subject to harassment, and GLSA posters are still regularly defaced, Yedinsky said.

When the Faculty Council originally voted down the non-discrimination policy, Council members said gay students need protection primarily against harassment, rather than against official discrimination by the University.