WHEN Undergraduate Council Chair Kenneth E. Lee '89 was unanimously reelected last week, many council members said they were satisfied with the council's course. And indeed, the council deserves credit for making an entrance onto the stage of relevancy this fall. This spring, the council should take on an even more ambitious agenda.
Formerly a body beleagured by dissension about how political a role it should take, the council has finally realized that it cannot idly sit by and hope that others will somehow represent student opinion on controversial issues.
For too long, the council was content selling big fingers at hockey games and throwing mediocre parties once a semester. But during the fall semester, the council finally stopped running from its own mandate. The body asked the nine all-male final clubs to admit women, called on Harvard to negotiate with the Harvard Union of Clerical and Technical Workers and blasted an administration plan which would have made it harder for anyone not espousing the official Harvard line to win a spot on the Board of Overseers.
The council has no power to effect change, but it can still fulfill its role as Harvard's conscience--nudging and poking the University when its actions contradict its highly-touted educational mission. The council can also crystallize student opinion and serve as an umbrella group for different student organizations working for a common cause. The council-supported rally for minority and women faculty held two weeks ago is an example of the type of positive action the council is capable of taking.
A busy semester awaits the council. It should try to revive the comatose campus divestment movement and actively support the Endowment for Divestiture (E4D)--the alternative gift fund with which the council reinstituted ties last semester.
The council was very late in joining the groundswell of student demands for more minority and women faculty members. A high-profile faculty committee will release a report on the issue during the next two weeks. The council should make sure that this committee's recommendations do not end up forgotten in some University Hall filing cabinet like those of the affirmative action committee which came before it.
The council should find out what kind of landlord Harvard Real Estate (HRE) is and should question the propriety of running HRE like a for-profit corporation. Specifically, HRE has taken over the management of Memorial Hall and imposed new regulations on student groups trying to use the building for parties or performances.
In the realm of student life, we applaud the council's intention to investigate the problems with the University Health Services. They should begin a similar inquiry into the continuing problem of security on campus. In addition, the council should join the groups currently considering the question of Asian admissions.
The council should also press for an overhaul of the Harvard academic advising system, which surveys have shown to be grossly inadequate. It should also search for ways to resurrect the original role of the residential houses as intellectual communities.
The council should not lose sight of its role as the sole organization able to sponsor large-scale social events and concerts on campus, and it should revive opposition to the College alcohol policy.
In light of past council performance, we commend the council on a moderately successful fall semester. But much remains to be done.