Just two days before campus-wide referendum on the House system, the Undergraduate Council and the Student Advisory Committee (SAC) of the Institute of Politics have cancelled tonight's open meeting on the Freshman Housing Lottery.
Spokesmen from both organizations cited the withdrawals by speakers Thomas A. Dingman '67, assistant dean for the House system and Adams House master Robert J. Kiely, as the reason for the cancellation.
Although Dingman withdrew last week because of an illness in his family, the forum was still scheduled to go on. But Kiely's last-minute cancellation came too late for organizers to get a replacement or change the format of the forum, Jessica E. Levin '87, chairman of the residential committee said yesterday.
"What we would be able to bring to the Harvard community was not what we had started to-advertise," said SAC chairman Peter I Gentleman '85-6, in reference to posters tacked up throughout campus, advertising an open discussion between administrators, house masters, and students on "the Council's referendum on the Harvard Housing System,"
The poll, which will be distributed in dining hall to all undergraduates this Wednesday. Thursday and Friday, will, among other issue, ask students to choose between the current lottery system and several versions of random house assignment processes.
Nothing that he was the only current, master slated to speak at the forum, Kiely said that he cancelled his appearance because he "didn't want to appear as if [he] was speaking on behalf of all the masters."
Kiely added that if other masters had agreed to speak at the forum, he would not have withdrawn from the list of discussion participants. "The organization of the evens was not as good as it could have been," he said.
Although Levin said that "a good attempt was made to invite different masters with different views on the housing issue," only Kiely and former winthrop House Master William R. Hutchinson agreed to appear at the forum.
"Our purpose was not to pit master against each other or have them act as representatives of all master," Levin said. "The master would have some observation that would be enlightening to everybody freshman especially."
She added that the forum would have been an "appropriate preliminary to the housing poll. This is a great time for people to form opinions on the housing system."
Despite all of the confusion, the cancellation has not proved too costly for its sponsors, Council Chairman Brian R. Melendez '86 estimated the cost of publicizing the event as roughly $120. He added that this was a minimal less since the Council is "spending about five times that much on the referendum itself."
Gelfman added that the cancellation had not hurt relations between the council and the SAC. "We are very much interested in providing the Undergraduate Council with another opportunity to have a forum," he said