The Rice Thresher (Houston, Tex.), Ed. 1 Thursday, April 30, 1959 Page: 1 of 2
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THURSDAY, APRIL 30, 1959
REFERENDUM ON COUNCIL'S ACTION
ON THRESHER'S ASSISTANT EDITOR
In view of the evident confusion over the disciplinary probation of
the assistant editor of the Thresher and the action of the Student Council
en the same, the Thresher is presenting this special one-page issue to
dear up a few misunderstandings and set straight a few facts.
(There has been some question, mainly on the part of the Student
Council, as to the difference between editorial opinion and facts. For
the benefit of all concerned, we have set forth the "editorial opinion" in
bold faced type. The last section is clearly labelled.)
REFERENDUM: WHAT, WHEN, AND WHERE
Tomorrow, Thursday, April 30, an all-student referendum vote will
be held on the following resolution: "THE STUDENT COUNCIL'S
ACTION OF APRIL 15, 1959, ESTABLISHING AN ELECTION FOR
THE OFFICE OF THRESHER ASSISTANT EDITOR DURING THE
SPRING OF 1959 IS HEREBY VOID." The students can vote "For,"
which means that they are opposed to the Council's action, or "Against,"
which would uphold the Council and call for the special election to be
held. The polls will be located in front of Anderson; Hall and in the
Student Center, and will be open from 8 am to 1 pm. Blanket taxes will
be required to vote.
If the referendum fails to pass by a simple majority of the students
voting, an election for Assistant Editor of the Thresher will be held
Friday, May 1. The winner of this election would automatically succeed
to the office of editor-in-chief of the Thresher next year. Ed Summers
is the only candidate in this election. No-votes will not be counted. The
location and time of polls would be the same as above.
RUMORS ABOUT THE 'DONUT INCIDENT"
Some rather wild rumors have circulated about the actual circum-
stances of the "donut incident" for which Claire Plunguian, assistant
editor of the Thresher, was put on disciplinary probation.
She was placed oni probation by the administration not because she
took a coke and a donut out of Sammy's and into the Thresher office, but
because of the manner in which the rule was broken—i.e. ignoring the
warning of Mr. Fassett, the assistant manager of the Rice Memorial
Center. He said that s'he was breaking- a rule by taking the food upstairs.
In fact, he came upstairs and warned her that he would be forced to re-
port her if she did not take the food back to Sammy's. By this time
the donut was nearly eaten, and she did not go downstairs.
She did not swear at him, either in French or English, as some of
the rumors have stated, nor did%e tell her tliat she would be placed on
probation. He had no way of knowing what action would be taken against
EDITORIAL COMMENT-AND A CASE HISTORY
The next week the Student Council, in accord with the rule that
- no one may hold* am elected office while on probation of any kind, took
action. The action it took was reported in last week's Thresher and is
The Thresher is not protesting the action taken by the Council
because the person involved happens to be a member of the Thresher
staff. Had it been a person holding any other office, our feelings would
have been the same. The question is not whether the Student Council
can protest against a student being placed on disciplinary probation. It
cannot, because it is not the Council's responsibility to judge whether
or not a student should be put on probation. But the Council can, in
view of the unusually short period of probation, the organization of the
^ Thresher staff, and the fact that no other campus office specifically
requires'a year of apprenticeship, legally arrange for Claire to finish her
term next year as editor, which., as far as we can see, would be better
for all concerned.
The formidable parliamentary machinery of Robert's Rules of Order,
however, seems to have run away with the Council, with the result that
the body proposed a special election, almost rescinded it the next week,
and was forced by a petition calling for a referendum on the subject
to halt all proceedings until the student body has a chance to vote in
the matter. The question is whether or not the Council is justified in
carrying out the rules of probation to the letter, or whether it should
look into particular cases.
On April 10, 1959, Claire Plunguian, then holding the position of
editor-elect, or assistant editor, of the Rice Thresher, was put on pro-
bation from that date until the end of the term. The actual length of
this probation is six and a 'half weeks. Since the Thresher is not printed
during Dead Week, the length of this probation affecting her title on
the Thresher is four weeks.
On April 15, 1959, at their the next meeting, the Student Council
took up the question of the vacancy in the office of assistant editor of
the Thresher. It was moved that the Council suspen^ the "vacancies"
by-law and appoint Claire permanent editor as of next fall, when she
would be off profeSlion. This motion was withdrawn when the Council
decided that there was no sufficient reason for suspending this by-law.
THE COUNCIL'S VIEW: SPECIAL OR NOT?
The point in question is simply whether or not the present proba-
tion ruling is an exceptional case. The Student Council has discussed the
matter very thoroughly during the majority of two meetings and at
length outside of the meetings. Three different times the Council has
made the decision that this is not a special case:
'NOT UNUSUAL IN ANY WAY'
1. The administration stated that it is not unusual in any way to
place someone on disciplinary probation for a part of one semester. It
was further stated by the administration that the possibility that the
person concerned would be restricted from being editor was thoroughly
understood at the time of the decision. This did not in any manner affect
the decision as to the type or length of probation.
SAME DECISION AS IN OTHER CASES
2. The same decision would have been reached by the Student Coun-
cil in the event that the assistant editor went on scholastic probation.
Almost everyond-would agree that this would be the right decision. Some
would say but that is different for it woulcftast for a whole semester.*
Consider, however, the case of the person in question taking late mid-
term finals and then going on scholastic probation. The same decision
would be made and most would agree this was fair.
DOES NOT CONSTITUTE A SPECIAL CASE
3. The incident in question might be considered trivial and thus
constitute a special case; however, this would involve the Student Council
the decision whether or not the probation was justified. Up to
fids point no one has ever questioned the justness of the probation (until
titis paper). However, if this were to be questioned, the only evidence the
St&dent Council would have is the reason for the probation, i.e. .. de-
fying the authority of an Institute official." This reason does not con-
stitute a special case as it is not an uncommon reason for probation.
The Student Council could allow the vacancy to exist for the re-
mainder of this year if it deemed the reason for doing this justified.
The Council did not consider the circumstances special in any way and
thus proceded to fill the vacancy in the usual manner.
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The Rice Thresher (Houston, Tex.), Ed. 1 Thursday, April 30, 1959, newspaper, April 30, 1959; Houston, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth231119/m1/1/: accessed February 20, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Rice University Woodson Research Center.