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Student Activists Discuss Future of UNITE

Members Debate the Scope of Progressive Coalition's Social and Political Involvement on Campus

NO WRITER ATTRIBUTED

In a two-hour discussion last night, 16 student activists attempted to chart out the future of UNITE, a new progressive coalition on campus.

Participants debated whether the organization should serve as a clearing-house for activist information and database of institutional memory or as a group that itself acts on various social and political issues.

But concerns about how to keep the group an all-inclusive organization prevented much from being decided until a later meeting.

Students said they were wary that the people who attended last night's meeting, drafted UNITE's constitution and published its first newsletter might be taking on a role so strong that other students would feel alienated.

"It's controversial as to what decisions the group that met tonight can make," said Mark J. Engler '98-'99, who attended the meeting. "Only when a very representative group comes together can we call it UNITE."

Last night's meeting at the Lyman Common Room marked the first time UNITE members reunited since a conference last spring that attracted nearly 100 undergraduates.

Successes Since Last Year

Some students who attended the meeting said they believed UNITE has to date achieved as much as can be expected because its initial conference took place just before the summer.

"It's at least accomplished establishing that there is a need for an activist coalition on campus that is diverse," said Rita Rasogi '99, a participant at the meeting.

UNITE has submitted its constitution to University Hall and formed a relationship with two faculty advisers--Professor of Afro-American Studies and of the Philosophy of Religion Cornel R. West '74 and Professor of Romance Languages and Literatures Doris Sommer--as it seeks official recognition from the College.

Members of UNITE said the Committee on College Life, which is composed of students, administrators and faculty members, will probably recognize the group at its next meeting, which should occur within two weeks.

In addition, a flier containing brief articles about various activist groups and published by UNITE was distributed at the Lyman Common Room. The flier was also given out at undergraduate registration last month.

Participants at last night's meeting planned to send out a notice over UNITE's e-mail list to announce the next organizational meeting.

At that meeting, which will take place next Tuesday, students will plan another large gathering like last year's.

They said they may also throw a party to draw attention to UNITE.

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