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Oust Offutt



To the Editors of The Crimson:

I was pleased to read the article in the November 26 issue of The Crimson entitled, "E4D May Oust Offutt Over Council Politics." As a fourth-year member of the Undergraduate Council I would like to make three points on this subject.

First, I urge the Trustees of the Endowment for Divestiture to remove Offutt from his position as President of the Endowment. By stating at an Undergraduate Council meeting that "we ought not to endorse this type of political activity," and by telling The Crimson, "I feel that the University must have good reasons not to divest," Offutt has made it clear that he has no commitment to divestment. Offutt's record shows that he has only sought to hinder the efforts of the Endowment, rather than aid them. There are many individuals on the Undergraduate Council who would be willing to replace him and actively support the spirit of the Endowment and its fundraising efforts.

Secondly, it is true that the Council voted on sending out a letter to undergraduates soliciting contributions for the Endowment and that similar letters have been sent out on Undergraduate Council stationery since the Council created the Endowment three years ago. It is a fact that Offutt spoke out against us sending this letter, but it was very misleading when The Crimson reported that "a majority of Council members sided with Offutt and voted that the letter should not go out under the Council's letterhead." Many people voted againt the letter, not because they had problems with us sending such a letter, but because they were uncomfortable with the wording of this specific letter. Thus, the specific case and the much broader issue of whether the Council should discuss political issues is far from closed. In fact, at the very same meeting that we voted againt sending that specific Endowment letter, we also voted not to buy a computer from any company doing business in South Africa.

Finally, I want to assure the Trustees of the Endowment for Divestiture and the whole Harvard community that the members of the Undergraduate Council are not all Brian Offutt types, seeking to avoid campus issues solely because they are political and in many cases controversial. Offutt argues that the Council should only concentrate on issues "related to student life." But this narrow definition of what it is proper and not proper for the student government to consider sounds more like an excuse to avoid whatever Offutt wants to avoid--in this case issues that involve morality and conscience. Only a person with selective vision can go through several years at Harvard-Radcliffe without seeing that the divestiture movement is an important part of life here. Also, the fact that as undergraduates we give thousands of dollars to the University makes us morally bound to the University's investment policies. Divestment is not only a political issue, but an ethical one as well, and every undergraduate has the right to voice his or her opinion on it and the University's investment policies in general. The Harvard-Radcliffe Undergraduate Council is the only elected, representative student government (i.e. political body) on campus. It is therefore extremely clear that we should discuss and take stands on any important campus issue, whether it is political, ethical, neutral, controversial, or non-controversial. The Council has had a long-standing tradition of support for divestiture and the Endowment. We have discussed and/or taken stands on many other political/ethical issues. These have included: federal cuts in financial aid, linking financial aid with draft registration, ROTC, the inclusion of sexual orientation in the College's non-discrimination clause, sexual harassment, the Pi Eta newsletter, race relations, etc. If the Council ceases to be a political and ethical orgnization, willing to take stands on controversial issues, I, and I believe many others, would not want to associate ourselves with the Council. Steve Nussbaum '86   Undergraduate Council

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