House Assignment Plan Changed; Master, Student Choice Curtailed
The Corporation has approved a new House assignment system which eliminates formal choice by both Masters and freshmen, Dean Ford announced yesterday.
Beginning next year, a Standing Committee of the Faculty on House Assignment will make all decisions on the distribution of the freshman class among the eight residence Houses. The system in use for many years--involving required choice of three Houses by each freshman, selection of most freshmen by Masters, and assignment of the rest from a pool--has been discontinued.
The new rules will "allow any freshman who believes he has a substantial reason for preferring one House over the others to write the Dean of the College a letter, separate from his room application, announcing and supporting his preference," according to a brief memorandum on the decision released by Deans Ford and Monro.
Masters, the memorandum states, will "be free to inform the Standing Committee and its staff of general manpower needs they would like to have considered, as well as particular students they may hope to have assigned to them."
After a staff, which will include Dean Watson; F. Skiddy von Stade '38, dean of Freshmen; and George W. Goethals '43, assistant dean of the College, has performed most of the "detailed work" of the process, the Standing Committee will make assignments on the basis of "the same considerations of cross-sectioning as now apply in House assignments." These considerations include quotas in such areas as Rank List, school background, and field of concentration.
Under the new system the Committee will still assign roommate groups to the same House, with a probable limit of six to each group. The applications which freshmen submit will request only a listing of roommates and data pertinent to equal distribution.
The timing of House applications and admissions will probably remain about the same. Freshmen will have "time enough to find roommates and decide if there is a reason to prefer one House" before they must submit applications, Monro predicted.
While the memorandum explains that "freshmen, as in the past, may wish to visit the Houses during the winter and may wish to talk to members of House staffs," the new system does not provide for House interviews or a specific effort to acquaint the freshman class with the Houses.
President Pusey will appoint nine members to the Standing Committee, probably in the next few weeks. It will represent, "the Faculty in general, the Houses, the office of the Dean of the College, and the Freshman Dean's Office," as directed by the Corporation.
Ford and Monro stressed that most of the details of the new system will have to be determined by the Committee next fall. Among the important decisions will be a definition of what is acceptable as a "substantial reason" for a freshman's preference.
The question of the special character or stereotype of each House is one which must be settled by the Committee, Monro said. He noted that the Committee may permit a Master to request appropriate people to maintain the old image of a House.
Ford submitted the recommendation for a new assignment process to the Corporation after gathering the suggestions of deans, masters, and the Harvard Undergraduate Council. There was also extensive discussion of the issue by the Committee on Educational Policy.
Noticeably absent from Dean Ford's plan is any mention of a computer. A report of a Faculty Committee, headed by J. Peterson Elder, Dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, last year had urged total elimination of Master's choice and assignment by computer. In its reports, the HUC, asked that a computer be used to "tabulate" master and student choices.