The 1991-92 Undergraduate Council promised to avoid political controversy and concentrate on improving the quality of undergraduate life.
But the fall campaign pledges fell to the wayside as political issues such as the future of Reserve Officers Training Corps in the fall and date rape in the spring dominated. And even the council's major student service effort, the spring De La Soul rock concert, flopped.
To be fair, the council did enact a number of student services including a successful casino night, airport shuttles during every term break and a $5000 boost in spring grants to campus organizations.
But the memorable moments of this year's council revolve around the two political controversies and the concert fiasco.
Council Chair David A. Aronberg '93 defends the re-politicization of the Undergraduate Council--still not on par with the activist seventh council led by Kenneth E. Lee '89--stressing the importance of the council in articulating student opinions.
"The U.C. is the only means by which the students can collectively be heard," says Aronberg. "Thus, the U.C. has the responsibility to express students' viewpoints on such issues of significance on the Harvard campus as ROTC and date rape."
"When the issues don't' directly affect the Harvard campus, then the U.C. is reaching beyond its jurisdiction," he continues.
Yet, while savvy council tacticians were eager to stick to noncontroversial service-oriented measures, the council's heated discourse on ROTC inevitably resurfaced.
But the passions of 1989--when hundreds of angry students disrupted a council meeting to overturn a measure calling for ROTC's return to campus--did not factor in this year's debate, which largely failed to solicit a significant response from the undergraduate community.
After a peripatetic consensus-building period of several months and an open forum attended by only non-council individual, the ad hoc committee--chaired by Timothy P. McCormack '92 and Yared Belai '92-- made three different recommendations.
The McCormack report recommended the status quo; Belai proposed Harvard sever all ties with the program; and Daniel H. Tabak '92 drafted a compromise, which sought to terminate the program and replace it with a public sector scholarship program as a financial surrogate for ROTC cadets.
McCormack's report passed, 29-24, in a poorly attended (only 56 to 88 members voted), but hotly contested three-and-a-half hour meeting that was determined more by absentee ballots and apathy than a sharp, refined debate.
The council ultimately voted to send all three reports to Dean of the Faculty Jeremy R. Knowles in order to show the different opinions on the issue.
Date Rape Debate
Just a month after the council had delivered its ROTC reports to Knowles, an ad hoc committee discussion on date rape ignited into an explosive debate, culminating in a precedent-setting and somewhat unorthodox redefinition of date rape.