Mather Government Challenged

According to a group of Mather House students calling themselves the "Provisional Revolutionary Government" (PRG), F. Skiddy von Stade '38, Master of Mather, was "threatened with house arrest" yesterday.

Two Mather students-Marshall B. Strauss '72 and Kenneth M. O'Brien '73, a member of the Constitutional Committee, Mather's only student government at the present time-met yesterday with von Stade and presented him with a new constitution for the House.

House arrest proved unnecessary when von Stade agreed that Strauss, O'Brien, Donald R. Spaulding '73, Phillip McClellan '73, and James F. Quinn '73 should form an interim House government and present the new constitution to members of Mather tonight at dinner.

It will become effective if approved by one-fourth of the 400 House members, or if the PRG can gain 100 signatures on a special petition.

The new constitution is similar in form, if not in language, to the constitutions of other Harvard Houses. It establishes a "General Court," or House Committee, in place of a system of several committees tentatively proposed by the Constitutional Committee.

Members of the PRG claim that the proposed committees would be "ad hoc, inefficient, self-interested, and out of communication with each other and with the rest of the University."

Furthermore, according to Quinn, the PRG fears that pending Constitutional Committee decisions "involving large sums of money and having implications for Mather's next 40 years" will do no more than "reflect the wishes of whatever interest group or sub-committee can shout the loudest and make the most extravagant claims."

However, von Stade, while he admitted last night that the PRG might be providing impetus for formation of a working House government, said that there is opposition among House members to the kind of traditional government the PRG is proposing.

Juniors and seniors in Mather, who together number only 50, according to van Stade favor an informal House government. The far more numerous sophomores, von Stade said, tend to wonder how they ended up in Mather and to worry that it won't offer the benefits and structured activities of the other Houses.

James A. Ouchi '72, also a member of the Constitutional Committee, agreed with von Stade and said that the constitution proposed by the PRG faces an uncertain fate because of its similarity to the one defeated by Mather last Spring because it was "too bureaucratic and traditional."

Ochi defended the work of the Constitutional Committee, which has just begun meeting. Von Stade, however, said, "The PRG is giving us a chance to abdicate before we've even got a working kingdom."

Von Stade also countered the charges of the PRG that he and Kenneth M. Deitch '60, Allston Burr Senior Tutor of Mather, have made crucial decisions without consulting undergraduates, who have had no official power. Von Stade claimed to have made only one decision-concerning laundry arrangements-which can be reversed by the students after one year.

David Riesman '31, Henry Ford II Professor of Social Sciences, commented yesterday on the differences between the situation at Mather and the problems involved with establishing Quincy, Harvard's last new House.

"In 1959 the issue of student representation was not salient one. Today, however, it is; students are saying, 'Who can speak for me tomorrow? Not even me.' "Confused Mather students may prove Riesman right.