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Council Debates Rugby Grant, Heckling Policy

By Jean E. Engelmayer

In its final meeting this spring, the Undergraduate Council last night became tangled in the sort of procedural arguments that some observers say have periodically "strangled" its effectiveness this year.

The council refused to suspend a new bylaw to allow a vote on a last-minute funding request to send the Men's Rugby Football Club to the national championships in California Thursday.

Thomas S. Heintzman '86, a council member and a player on the rugby team, asked the council for "as much money as you can spare" towards the roughly $8500 cost of the group's travel expenses. The team qualified for the nationals by winning an Eastern regional competition Sunday.

Several council members proposed granting the rugby club $3000 to help them to attend the tournament. In an effort to prevent ir responsible outlays, the council earlier last night had passed an an overnight amendment specifying that any revolution with a budget of more than $500 must be reviewed by the body's finance Committee before coming to a vote on the full floor. Because the council will not be meeting again this spring it could not pass the vote on the rugby team's request without suspending the new rule.

In a heated debate, council members decided not to suspend the new procedures, prompting some to complain that the group had become a "body of rules, not a body that looks at issues," according in Quincy House representative Douglas A. Winthrop '86.

"We can't simply ignore the procedures we just passed," said Vincent T. Chang '84, adding. "How can we justify the largest grant ever in council history without adequate review?"

The council's Student Services Committee also came under attack from community members for being too tied up in procedures at a meeting last month to discuss the recent Pi Eta Speaker's Club newsletter.

The body spent the first hour of its meeting last night debating six amendments to its bylaws.

Council members said they were unsure whether the rugby grant proposal would have been approved even had the issue come to a vote.

Several members opposed funding the club's travel expenses in light of its refusal of similar requests from other groups earlier in the year. The rugby team received a $1000 grant and $700 loan this year towards previous expenses.

"It's a great cause, but we're not supposed to channel all of our funds to one group," said Ethan H. Cohen '86, co-chair of the council's Finance Committee, which makes recommendations on all grant proposals.

But others argued that the team's participation in the national championships would be worth the $3000 outlay because it would focus attention-- and television coverage--on Harvard's rugby success.

"We're not asking for the money to go out there for a tour," Heintzman said, "but to represent the Eastern United States in rugby We're proud to wear the Crimson on our backs," he added.

The council did pass a substitute motion urging the Athletic Department and Harvard College to help fund the teams trip to California.


In other action last night, the council voted to adopt a report by vice chairman Brian R. Melendez '86 on heckling and freedom of speech. The report urged the college to shift jurisdiction on these matters from the inactive Committee on Rights and Responsibilities (CRR), created in 1970, to the Administrative Board, and to allow students to participate in Ad Board discussions on free speech cases.

Students were officially given input into CRR debates in the early '70's, although many subsequently boycotted the committee for ten years, calling it a "court for political crimes."

The report was a response to questions raised about the University's policy after a speech by Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger '38 was disrupted by a largely hostile audience of 1200 in November.

In the wake of that incident, College officials sent "warnings" to two of the hecklers, both members of the Friends of the Spartacus Youth League, informing them that similar behavior in the future "will, in all probability, lead to disciplinary action.

Melendez argued that including free speech cases in Ad Board meetings would allow a more consistent system for enforcing College rules on student rights and responsibilities.

But Dean of Students Archie C. Epps III said yesterday that there was "strong sentiment in the Faculty not to reintroduce these kinds of matters into the Ad board.

"The Ad Board can function better without dealing with political situations," said Dean of the College John B. Fox '59, chairman of the Ad Board.

Melendez's report also tried to draw a line between what constitutes free expression of dissent at public events and what is an "attempt to snuff out the right of the speaker to speak and the right of the audience to be in he said.

"The University above all should be an oasis of free speech," Melendez said.

The council also refused to adopt a proposal urging the College to institute a '70-30 system for the freshman housing lottery which would have 70 percent of students as signed in the current manner and 30 percent randomly.

Instead, the council voted to ask its representatives on the student-faculty Committee on Housing to abstain from voting on the matter for the rest of the year, to enable more campus-wide debate before any changes in the lottery system are made

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