Boston Backs PBHA Hiring Its Own Staff

Council Passes Resolution

On the eve of a rally to protest the University's handling of the search process for new Assistant Dean for Public Service Judith H. Kidd, the Boston City Council unanimously passed a resolution supporting the decision of Phillips Brooks House Association (PBHA) to raise funds to hire its own staff.

In a congratulatory resolution introduced by Boston Councilor Gareth Saunders, the council said:

"The Boston City Council recognizes the quality and importance of PBHA Inc. programming in Boston schools and communities, and supports and celebrates PBHA Inc.'s move toward a more rational, autonomous and unified operational configuration where its student-run public service and social action programs will be supported by a staff employed by PBHA Inc."

Currently, Phillips Brooks House (PBH) staff members are employed by the University, and not by the student-run corporation.

The decision by the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) last year to restructure the College's two existing public service programs--PBH and the House and Neighborhood Development (HAND) program--by placing them under an assistant dean for public service and director of PBH, culminated in the hiring of Kidd last month.

Current Executive Director of PBH Greg A. Johnson '72 and Director of the Office of Public Service Gail L. Epstein will be released from their jobs this June, following the restructuring.

PBHA, backed by 18 student groups and the Cambridge and Boston City Councils, will hold a rally in the Yard in front of the statue of John Harvard at 1 p.m. today to protest the decision by Dean of the College Harry R. Lewis '68.

Lewis and Theda Skocpol, chair of the FAS committee on public service, will not attend the rally because of previous commitments.

Skocpol said last night that the Boston City Council's resolution would have little effect on the College's position toward the public service issue.

"It doesn't add any pressure at all," she said. "What we need to do is communicate."

Given the council's support for "a staff supported by PBHA, Inc.," Skocpol said she wondered if the city itself would be willing to pay the salaries of PBHA staff.

"I'd be really interested to know if they would provide the funds," she said.

Skocpol said she was not sure that the councilors who approved the resolution were sufficiently informed about the issues at stake.

"I'm not sure what this resolution really means, and I don't know if the councilors do either," she said.

Student public service leaders said they hoped the resolution will put pressure on the College to listen to student leaders' concerns.

"We just want to show that the decisions they make about public service stretch far beyond the College," said Elisabeth L. Ritter '97, publicity coordinator for PBHA.

Ritter said the support of the Boston council shows that communities served by PBHA are responsive to students' concerns.

"One of our main goals is not just to provide students with opportunities to perform quality service, but also to inspire community action," Ritter said.

"[The resolution is] to show [the administration] that the communities are really behind us on this one, and are willing to support us in whatever we need to do.