Dean Monro yesterday raised the Possibility that the College might eventually eliminate all student choice in selecting new members of the Houses.
He said that this year's new selection system would be reviewed this summer and that any major change would probably be in the direction of less student choice.
Under the old system, a student made three choices on his House application. The new procedure, announced last spring, eliminates this choice, but allows any freshman to write Monro expressing a "substantial" reason for preferring one House over another. A new House selection committee decides whether or not the reasons are "substantial."
Unless the Harvard community can adapt to this system of reduced choice, Monro said. "It may be that we may have to do what Yale has done." Yale automatically assigns all its freshmen to a residential college--New Haven's equivalent of the House--by associating all freshmen dormitories with one of the colleges.
"A good part of the community is working on assumptions [about choice] valid only in the past ... if the community has made up its mind that we're still in the old system, then we may have to go the other way [towards less choice]," he asserted.
But Monro, who is the chairman of the selection committee, quickly added, "I'm hoping that we stay with the new system and learn to live with it. I'm satisfied with the placements that have been made... Personally, I do not want to go all the way with Yale."
Monro reiterated his position that the old system of choice weakened the House system by making the freshman selection process a "popularity contest." He declared firmly that "there's no disposition in the House assignment committee to go back to choice."
At least several of the Masters, however, have expressed varying degrees of dissatisfaction with the new system and are expected to ask that a provision for choice be made on next year's applications.
Defending the new system, Monro yesterday gave the first indications of how many freshmen expressed no choice ... "that interests me," he said. However, he declined, as he has in the past, to disclose the actual number of letters because this would revive "the numbers game."