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Fair Trial

DISSENTING OPINION

THE MAJORITY misrepresents the Committee on Rights and Responsibilities (CRR) as a threat to free expression. The CRR's critics claim illogically that protecting free speech necessarily inhibits it.

The CRR is charged with preserving the essential freedoms of speech and movement guaranteed in the Faculty's Resolution on Rights and Responsibilities (RRR). Coercive tactics cannot be condoned when rational arguments fail to persuade Harvard students and officials. The task of upholding this incontrovertible principle is exceptionally sensitive, and one that the CRR is especially qualified to fulfill.

The CRR is more likely to deliver a fair trial and an impartial jury than the Administrative Board or other disciplinary channels endorsed by the majority. Unlike the Administrative Board, the CRR allows students to speak in their own defense. Unlike the Ad Board, the CRR allows the accused an attorney or other chosen advocate. Unlike the Ad Board, the CRR charter calls for a jury that includes six student peers.

Unlike the Ad Board, the CRR honors basic ideals of American justice--at least in theory. If theory diverges from actual practice, those who support a student boycott of the CRR must accept part of the blame. The majority's objection to student participation on the CRR oddly contradicts its frequent and well-founded arguments for student involvement in Harvard' administrative affairs. The majority argues without basis that students will be worse judges of their colleagues than either professors or administrators.

Most importantly, however, the CRR impanels a detached and potentially impartial body of students and professors when the University itself is the prosecuting party. To submit disputes involving alleged RRR violations to the conventional disciplinary body would make the administration judge, jury, and executioner in its own case.

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