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Last week, the Undergraduate Council took a positive step towards increasing its effectiveness as a student government. By passing a resolution designed to include the dean of the College in the council's legislative process, the council is now capable of directly affecting the policies of Harvard University.
The amendment to the council's by-laws, which was accepted by a vote of 44-2 and signed by Dean of the College Harry R. Lewis '68, specifies that passing resolutions which involve University policy will be forwarded to the dean for consideration. Any decisions made by the council that do not involve University policy--such as spending--will remain independent of Dean Lewis, and are not affected by this new amendment.
Previously, any resolution passed by the council which addressed itself to the workings of the University was fundamentally ineffective, as the administration was not required to even consider the council's suggestions, let alone implement them. Under the new system, any such resolution must be considered by Lewis, who will have three options.
First of all, he can sign the resolution. In this case, the change will become College policy--if the change is one which Lewis has the power to implement. If he does not, the resolution becomes a "proposal on behalf of Harvard College by the council and the Dean." This means that Lewis would then champion the bill as it is considered by whomever does have the power to implement it.
Secondly, Lewis can veto the resolution, in which case it dies.
Thirdly, he can send it back to the council with proposed amendments, which would then be voted on by the council as a package. If the amended bill is passed, Lewis would automatically sign it. If the amendment package is rejected, the council still has the option of crafting a new bill and starting over.
Since this new legislative system gives teeth to the council where University policy is concerned, while leaving the council autonomous in other areas, it seems to be an unequivocal asset to Harvard's student government. We have one concern, however, and that is simply that Dean Lewis has proven to be extremely unresponsive to students' needs and input in the past, most notably involving such issues as randomization and the restructuring of public service. He also has the unpleasant habit of ignoring the recommendations of student-faculty committees, advisory bodies whose student members are often appointed by the council. We sincerely hope that his acceptance of this new legislative system means he has decided to seriously consider the undergraduates' point of view when making decisions that will affect our lives.
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