To the Editors of The Crimson:
At an emergency meeting of the Winthrop House Committee, several students raised issues which cloud the recent convening of the committee on Rights and Responsibilities (CRR): (1) the validity of the committee as a body separate from, but empowered equally to the Administrative Board; (2) the election of members and the appropriateness of students serving on the committee; (3) the validity of the committee conceptually; and (4) the operation of the committee and the violations of students' natural rights as citizens of this country.
I have not resolved all of these dilemnas, and I'm sure there are many more I haven't even considered. However, I do know that by vote of the Faculty Council, the CRR is charged to protect students' rights and the rights of other members of the University as they are outlined below in this passage from the Resolution on Rights and Responsibilities.
The University places special emphasis, as well, upon...freedom of speech and academic freedom, freedom from personal force and violence, and freedom of movement. Interference with any of these freedoms must be regarded as a serious violation of the personal rights upon which the community is based.
If, as it states in the Resolution, that "the CRR is a student-Faculty committee available to hear charges of violations of the Resolution's second and third paragraphs by students in the College or GSAS," then all cases of peer harassment should be diverted from the Ad Board to the CRR. The Faculty Council invalidates the existence of its own committee by not letting it exercise its full authority in the students' academic and social lives as well.
Thus, it becomes clear that the true purpose of the CRR is not to determine what constitutes civil disobedience nor to administer the rightful rewards of civil disobedience, but to prevent students from acting from conscience and actively protesting It serves as a strong-arm of the administration and violates the very rights of political expression, whose protection is ostensibly the sole purpose of its existence.
As it stands, I believe the CRR violates students' rights as members of the University and of this country. I hope that during my tour years at the College, I never unknowingly signed away my rights to free speech and protest. The protection of rights of expression is fundamental to the functioning of any place of learning. I believe that the CRR should become an active body with power equal to that of the Ad Board and that its functions should reach beyond those indicated in the Resolution. For example, it should try all cases of harassment--peer, political, racial religious, and sexual--which involve any undergraduate or graduate student. The membership of the committee should change frequently--from case to case if possible--to ensure that each case has members new to its and new in outlook. Perhaps students should be randomly selected from pools suggested by the Undergraduate Council, Radcliffe Union of Students, and the House Committees.
Harvard University is supposed to be place where individuals can freely seek it formation, open discussion and express opinion. Until mid-May, I thought that the administrators, faculty, and other officers of the University attempted to their fullest ability to make Harvard and Radcliffe such a place. It disturbs me greatly to watch the University stray so greatly from its founding promises. Anioinette M Riley '85