The International Relations Council (IRC) may be removed from their offices in Thayer basement, if Associate Dean of the College David P. Illingworth ’71 has his way. On Tuesday Illingworth announced that the IRC, which shares offices with Harvard Model Congress and Harvard Model Congress Europe, would be forced into downsized space in order to make more room for the Harvard Foundation.
Both groups need more space, both have been cramped into tiny offices for years, and both are home to Harvard students. However, Illingworth’s solution only serves to pit groups one against the other. The IRC, which serves hundreds of students and is the largest student-run organization on campus, was never consulted during the discussions between director of the Harvard Foundation Dr. S. Allen Counter, Jr. and Illingworth last year. Instead, the IRC found out about the proposed move only this week.
Such dealings do not engender trust between students and administrators, and do not speak well of a Dean whose mission is, ostensibly, to address student concerns. Furthermore, the underhanded way the talks were conducted adds to a sense of competition and tension between student groups who perceive themselves to be in a cut-throat competition for space.
If Illingworth were serious about creating more space for organizations that serve student interests—organizations both student run, and those like the Harvard Foundation, which is administratively controlled—he would insist upon open discussions between students and university administrators. To fulfill his mission, he would actively involve undergraduate students in the quest to open up more space on campus to student groups.
Illingworth plans to meet with the IRC today. We hope he takes their concerns seriously, and that he decides not to downsize the space they are currently occupying. He must find more space for all student groups. In the meantime, he must find another place to put the Harvard Foundation so that both groups get the space they need.
Illingworth’s first move was bad, but we hope his subsequent ones will be better.