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Masters Push for Randomization

House Heads Also Suggest Limiting Block Size, Changing Room Lottery

In a meeting last Wednesday, house masters voted overwhelmingly to recommend that first-year students be completely randomized into upperclass houses, Quincy House Master Michael Shinagel said yesterday.

"Ten houses voted in favor of randomization, two not [in favor], one abstention," Shinagel said during yesterday's joint meeting of the Committee on House Life (COHL) and the Committee on College Life (COCL).

Shinagel said this vote implies that the masters support the conclusion of the Report on the Structure of Harvard College that "the current system for assigning students to Houses be abandoned in favor of random assignment of roommate groups at the end of Freshman year."

Leverett House Co-Master John E. Dowling '57, who chairs the meetings of the house masters, said the masters have indicated to Dean of the College L. Fred Jewett '57 that they support complete randomization.

"The recommendation was that the great majority of masters felt they would prefer complete randomization of the houses," Dowling said. "We also determined that most house masters were less comfortable with the current system than with complete randomization."

The Dean of the College is authorized to make the final decision on house assignments.

But not all masters agree that the vote represents an endorsement of randomization.

Lowell House Co-Master William H. Bossert '59 said the masters' vote was intended as a recommendation.

"There is no strong consensus on any particular option," he said. "When there is a formal decision, it will be made known."

During the COCL/COHL meeting, Bossert said the masters voted for house selection arrangements "you could accept."

"Ten houses could accept randomization, but seven-and-a-half could accept the current system," said Bossert.

Adams House Co-Master Robert J. Kiely, who was one of two masters who opposed randomization, said the vote was not even taken formally.

"It was done very quickly," Kiely said. "It was a straw vote to see whether there ought to be future discussion."

Dudley House Master Daniel S. Fisher said the vote is not a mandate for randomization because a nearly equal number of masters supported the current system.

"The number that was happy with one arrangement was not significantly different from the one that was happy with the other," said Fisher. IZATIONwho abstained from the votes. "Everyone felt there were lots of arguments for both sides."

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