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Continuing its shift toward a more activistic approach to women's issues on campus, the Radcliffe Union of Students (RUS) last night approved a draft constitution allowing the group to take political stands for the first time in years.
The organization also added a provision calling for contact with Harvard administrators as well as Radcliffe officials.
Speakers at the Lyman Common Room meeting of 25 student members praised the first step as movement toward greater engagement and the second as a concession to reality.
"We are an instituting a change that has been happening for a couple of years: moving away from a student group and moving towards being an activist group for Harvard-Radcliffe women's issues," said RUS Co-President Megan L. Peimer'97. "Because we're working for women's issues, that in itself is a political position."
Those and other revisions to the RUS constitution were sent back to a committee for fine-tuning, with final approval expected at the next full meeting on December 5.
Peimer said the rewritten constitution will focus the RUC as a women's community, a foundation for grants and a sponsor of such activities as Take Back the Night, Women's Expo and the Harvard-Radcliffe Alliance for Safety, Training and Education (HASTE).
RUS members speaking in support of including "Harvard" in the phrase "maintain contact with Radcliffe administration," included Nora K. Puffett '96, who commented that: "[o]therwise, you're risking a certain level of irrelevence."
In procedural matters, the body also agreed to question-and-answer sessions with candidates for RUS offices and cast a tie vote on whether to allow failed candiates for office to immediately seek election to lower posts. A new vote on the second matter will be taken December 5.
Definitions of the reponsibilites of RUS Executive Board members will also be taken up at the next meeting, and the membership will nominate new candidates.
In debating whether candidates should be discussed while they are out of the room, some members felt that a candidate's work should be well-known by the voters and therefore not require such discussions. "If [the general membership] doesn't know about the candidates, they probably shouldn't be voting", said RUS Secretary Adina H. Rosenbaum '98.
Others disagreed. "There needs to be a way to say something negative if need be", said Ana Morrel-Samuels '00.
After the latest revisions, the draft constitution will be sent by e-mail to members before the next meeting.
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