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Harvard Discipline

The CRR Reform Plan


LAST WEEK the Faculty's executive committee approved a plan to reorganize the Faculty's disciplinary system. If it wins the approval of the full Faculty, the plan will create a new disciplinary body of students and faculty to replace the Committee on Rights and Responsibility, or CRR.

The new group would hear cases on which there is no clear precedent or consensus. After the group decided such a case, similar ones would go before the Ad Board.

It is obvious that disciplinary reform that depends so heavily on unset precedent might not reform much of anything. Whether justice would be served more fully under the new body than it is now cannot be known until the body has heard some cases and thereby written the laws under which students will live. In the meantime, of course, the discipline the new group metes out might appear completely arbitrary to the students before it.

What is not so clear but clearly pernicious is that students cannot benefit from the reform as fully as the administrators who would make use of the new body. In presenting a defense based on precedent, students, whose memories dim beyond four years, would be at a distinct disadvantage. Administrators, however, would be able to recall all of the body's decisions.

Shouldn't a student know the rules before being punished for breaking them? Why should we accept on faith that the new group would decide each case fairly? Why should we be content to live under a tiny tyranny of the judiciary while we find out?

What undergraduates need and deserve is a clear code of just laws and a body composed equally of students and faculty to apply them. Faculty would enjoy a majority on the new body under the current plan.

Now, with the proposal before the student body for "input," it might look like a good time to make such suggestions. But Dean of the Faculty or Arts and Sciences A. Michael Spence doesn't think so. He said last week that unless students support the reform, the current disciplinary system will not be changed.

What kind of "input" is that?

Dean of the College L. Fred Jewett '57 takes a told a reporter, "We haven't really faced the proval. Later that same day, Spence said, "If it's issue yet" of what will happen to the disciplinary system if the current reform does not win approval. Later that same day, Spence said, "If its just impossible to reach a consensus, we'll have to stay with what we've got."

That the two deans with the most power over the College don't even know how they will proceed with the revamping of its disciplinary system is interesting to note. But it is really just a bit of low comedy in an 18-month disciplinary review that has culminated in a four-page plan and proven itself a farce.

The new plan should be scrapped. And another one should be drafted.

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