UA plans special vote on divestment, ROTC
By Linda D'Angelo
and Dave Watt
The Undergraduate Association Council last night voted <>
to hold a special referendum on May 7 and 8 addressing divestment, student protests, and the Reserve Officers' Training Corps policy of discrimination against homosexuals.
The "idea behind this referendum is to really find out what students feel," according to UA President Manish Bapna '91. Because the events which prompted these questions have been "quite sudden," the UA "wants to gather information about student opinion before we take a stance," he said.
The referendum will coincide with the distribution of fall registration material, ensuring that all continuing students will be in Lobby 10 at some time during the two-day period. The May date will also allow the UA time to plan over the summer.
The only polling place for the referendum will be Lobby 10.
The referendum consists of two questions to which students may answer yes or no, and one statement with which students may agree or disagree. Each of the three parts also contains a "no opinion" option.
With regards to the ROTC policy, the referendum questions whether "MIT should disassociate itself from ROTC and discontinue sponsorship of ROTC programs on campus" if the policy is not changed within the next four years.
The referendum also asks whether the Institute "should reinvest all investments currently held in companies that do business with South Africa in an alternative portfolio of comparable worth."
The legitimacy of arresting students who "protest in a peaceful, non-violent and non-threatening manner" is also brought into question by the referendum. If students "in such organized demonstrations violate MIT policy," should they be arrested, or should that action "be reserved for situations where students present a direct physical threat to safety on campus?" the referendum asks.
The referendum was, in part, the result of a separate referendum presented by Christine M. Coffey '92 at the start of last night's meeting, Bapna said. Coffey's referendum "centered around the UA condemning the administration" for arresting apartheid protesters, strongly encouraging MIT to "have the charges [against the demonstrators] dropped, pay their fines <>
and issue an apology," Bapna explained.
While "a lot of people did want to see something like this done," Bapna said, the UA felt the wording was too ambiguous and voted against the referendum.
The prompt response by the UA was important, Bapna felt, because "time is of importance in these issues." One of the "problems the UA has had in the past," he explained, was a tendency to be "stagnant." The "UA has to understand that council members do represent students and that we have to keep things moving."
A fourth part to the referendum was proposed, asking if "the proposed hair sculpture for the Student Center should be done." Since this issue "was not of the same magnitude of the other issues," the UA decided to look for "another way to gather information on this issues," Bapna said. Still, "there is an equal chance that some form of this question will appear on the referendum," he added.
GSC passes two resolutions
concerning student protests
The Graduate Student Council passed two resolutions condemning the Institute's treatment <>
of anti-apartheid protesters at <>
a meeting Tuesday, according <>
to GSC Secretary John Scott Thomas G.
One of the resolutions passed was authored by Steven D. Penn G, vice president-elect of the GSC, Coalition Against Apartheid activist, and member of the Alternative News Collective; Michael D. Grossberg G, the GSC president-elect; and Mark Engel G, a GSC representative.
This resolution, passed by a vote of 11-7, called for the formation of an MIT Police Oversight Board and a Community Committee to mediate disputes within the MIT community.
The GSC also passed a second resolution condemning "the unilateral, autocratic decision to arrest the CAA protesters" and "the harsh and violent actions enacted on MIT students by the campus police." This resolution was signed by GSC President Michael J. Warwick G, sent to President Paul E. Gray '54 and distributed at the faculty meeting on Wednesday.