Students: Equality for Your Fellow Man

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"Equal rights" is one of the abiding passions of today's students—and there is scarcely a special-interest group that does not have some kind of campus or- ganization championing its claims for justice. Now even homosexuals have one. Columbia has become the nation's first major university to grant recognition to the Student Homophile League, which argues that homosexuals are "unjustly, inhumanly and savagely discriminated against" in the U.S. The league plans to publicize results of research on homosexuality to fight for "the fundamental human right" of a homosexual "to live and to work with his fellow man as an equal."

Columbia's administrators took a bemused but coolly legalistic stance toward the new group. The University Committee on Student Organizations at first denied the league recognition, since it refused to name its organizers. The dozen interested students then shrewdly enlisted eight officers of other campus organizations, all presumably heterosexual, to sign as sponsors, under a university rule that their names need not be made public. The committee then decided that it had no legal reason not to grant the group official status.

While declining to identify himself or other members by name ("We would be losing jobs for the rest of our lives"), the league's chairman insists the group is educational, not social, and "plans no mixers with Harvard." So far, Columbia students seem little interested in joining. Shrugged Sophomore Elliot Stern: "As long as they don't bother the rest of us, it's O.K." The league's biggest problem will probably be its self-imposed secrecy. As some students asked: How do you treat them equally when you don't know who they are?