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Students Draft Response to Pryor's Decisions on IOP

By Winnie Wu, Contributing Writer

As the nation lingers in the throes of a protracted presidential election, the Institute of Politics (IOP) faces its own political crisis. Having been told they may lose the authority to appoint their own leaders, student members of the IOP met last night to decide what role undergraduates should play in running the IOP.

The student meeting was in response to IOP Director Sen. David Pryor's decision to disband the Student Advisory Committee (SAC), the IOP's student governing body. At the meeting, students wrote a proposal to "enhance student voice in the Institute's programming and produce a more democratic selection of leaders."

Meeting in a glass-paneled room overlooking JFK Street last night, senior associates Travis F. Batty '02 and Francisco J. Flores '02 wrote the proposal "to form a more perfect IOP" with the input of approximately 50 IOP associates, senior associates, and current SAC members.

Indeed, discussion was faintly reminiscent of the Constitutional Convention--sans wigs and hose. Impassioned debates flared, and fists pounded the table in lieu of a gavel to monitor the bursts of excited speech.

The drafters will present the proposal to Pryor at a breakfast tomorrow morning.

Last week, in an open letter to the Harvard community, Pryor said he would disband the current SAC and personally appoint new student committee chairs for the IOP's five committees. Pryor also invited all interested undergraduates to participate in defining the new role of students in the IOP after the dissolution of the SAC.

The undergraduates who met last night said they hope to achieve a compromise with their proposal and persuade Pryor to allow a democratically elected student governing board rather than a board appointed solely by Pryor.

The drafters said that they hope that Pryor will approve the proposal and adopt it as the working system by spring semester.

The proposal focused on maximizing student involvement in the IOP through a democratic process of electing the student leaders.

SAC leaders are currently chosen by the out-going SAC leaders from the preceding year.

Under the new student proposal, all undergraduates who have completed the requirement of attending two-thirds of the meetings for one IOP committee will become an IOP member. All members would be allowed to vote or run for president, vice-president, chairs of the committee, or Student Leadership Board at-large representatives.

"Before, [the selection of SAC members] was not a very fair process," Flores said. "There were many people very involved in IOP who weren't on SAC, and conversely there were many people who were on SAC who weren't very involved in IOP."

"We hope to make the new IOP student organization democratic from top to bottom," he said. "All members of IOP will be given the decision-making power."

The IOP members emphasized the need to maintain a central student organization within IOP even after the dissolution of SAC.

Consciously creating a parallel between the discussion meeting and the Constitutional Convention, Batty criticized Pryor's vision of an IOP comprised of a series of committees but no central executive student body as "something like the Articles of Confederation, a beast without a head."

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