Some of the recent Crimson articles and letters (most recently, the March 3 letter from Dorian Berger '00) about the procedures and precedents of the Administrative Board have noted a lack of general information about the Board, which is, as most of the writers point out, closely related to the Board's obligation to guard the privacy of the students bringing petitions or cases to the Board.
To meet this need, the College began publishing and distributing annual editions of "The Ad Board and the Judicial Board: A User's Guide for Students" more than five years ago. Some students may not be aware that most of the points of confusion and interest brought out in the articles and letters are addressed in the Guide, so I thought this would be a good time to remind students of this easy resource for most questions about the Board. Rather than simply refer him to the Guide, though, I'd like to respond to some of Mr. Berger's particular concerns. First, the membership of the Board (pages four-to-five of the Guide) includes all senior tutors and assistant deans of freshmen; several deans of the College and FAS; the registrar and the directors of the Core program and the Bureau of Study Counsel; and (currently) a total of three senior members of the Faculty. Second, the great majority of cases of abuse of alcohol or other drugs that come to the Board also involve other related incidents (such as violence, destruction, dishonesty, etc.) so penalties of "probation" reported by students for use of alcohol--which is not typical--may actually be responses to transgressions of other College rules as well. In addition, smoking marijuana per se has not in recent years resulted in requirement to withdraw (examples of typical responses to standard infractions are in the Guide, pages 13-14, and on the third and fourth pages of the College policy on drugs and alcohol, which each student receives and signs for at registration). Finally, the Board has been changed significantly--in make-up, procedure, and precedent--since the 1950s (for more information, see pages three-to-four of the Guide).
I hope this information is helpful. In addition to the material in the Guide and in the Handbook for Students, all members of the Board, and particularly the resident deans, are available and happy to answer questions students may have about the Board, its procedures, or precedents. --Virginia Mackay-Smith, Secretary of the Administrative Board of Harvard and Radcliffe Colleges