In a decision that may chip away at Radclife's status as Harvard's allfemale "annex," Radcliffe Union of Students (RUS) will vote on extending its franchise to men at its first meeting after Spring Break.
This year, which was marked by activism against the all-male status of Harvard's final clubs, RUS has come under fir for excluding men from its voting membership. Critics say RUS, like the final clubs, should not be permitted to ignore the University's nondiscrimination policy.
If the controversial motion passes, the nature of RUS will change dramatically, according to some members. Given suffrage, men would be allowed to run for office, choose officers and vote on grant proposals in an organization that prides itself on being an institutional voice for women on campus.
But for some RUS members, the debate over male membership in RUS has overshadowed the more pressing issue of expanding the female membership base.
Whether most RUS members think the admission of men should accompany this expansion remains to be seen. Co-President Anne B. say many RUS voters are unsure about their positions on issue and that the vote could go either way.
Male Members of RUS?
For the 17 years since the partial merger of Harvard and Radcliffe Colleges, RUS has been both a support group and an advocate for the concerns of the "dual citizens" of Harvard and Radcliffe.
The possibility of a co-ed RUS, which currentlyallows men to attend its weekly meetings asnon-voting participants, has stimulated heateddebate about the role of RUS and women's status asmembers of both the Harvard and Radcliffecommunities.
Eric D. Miller '96, director of the CivilLiberties Union of Harvard (CLUH), says he objectsto the exclusion of males from RUS's votingmembership because it conflicts with theUniversity's non-discrimination policy.
But as a Radcliffe entity, RUS is not bound tothe University's non-discrimination policy, whichprohibits Harvard organizations from excludingmembers on the basis of gender, according to Deanof Students Archie C. Epps III.
"This is a matter that Radcliffe has todecide," says Epps.
Miller says that concerns about theramifications of admitting men to RUS--such as menhelping to allocate funds earmarked for women'sneed--are "valid."
He says, however, that these concerns areoutweighed by the University's obligation topractice non-discrimination.
CLUCH member E. Michelle Drake '97 said at aMarch 11 RUS meeting that the group's power togive grants makes it more than a social supportgroup for women and exclusion of men is thereforeunfair.
"Form a club and meet a dorm, but don't have$14,000 to come and eat cookies," she said.