College Preps For Ad Board Review

The College will soon investigate the possibility of reforming the Administrative Board, its primary disciplinary body, according to Interim Dean of the College David R. Pilbeam.

Pilbeam said recently that he has convened a committee to consider reforms. Then-Dean of the College Benedict H. Gross ’71 called last spring for the creation of a committee, citing concerns that students do not have a voice when they go in front of the board.

But despite renewed interest from Undergraduate Council members in discussing the Ad Board—and Gross’s view that students might be able to serve on the committee—the new committee will not include any students; it will be made up of three faculty members. Pilbeam declined to release their names.

The 35-member Ad Board—which includes professors, resident deans, and other College administrators—is charged with enforcing Harvard’s academic rules and loosely defined “standards of social conduct.”

Pilbeam said he imagined the members of the College’s committee would be in touch with the recently formed Undergraduate Council Ad Board Reform Committee.

But UC Vice President Matthew L. Sundquist ‘09 said he was disappointed that the committee would lack an official student voice.

“I wish that from the beginning it had been a joint process,” Sundquist said. “I think it might be more fruitful for everyone involved if the process were slightly more inclusive.”

The UC’s reform committee, which includes both UC representatives and other students, solicited student input last night at two sparsely attended open meetings in Quincy and Mather.

Just six students were present for most of the Quincy discussion, which roamed from proposal to proposal, revealing some uncertainty about how best to reform the process.

“Nothing concrete has really been decided yet as a stance of the committee,” said committee member Tamar Holoshitz ’10, who attended the meeting.

Only two students attending the Quincy discussion rose their hands when asked whether they had personal experience with the Ad Board.

In addition to the informal gatherings, yesterday marked the launch of a daily “Tell Your Story” feature on the UC Web site, where students who have had experience with the Ad Board can post their stories anonymously.

The lone contribution early this morning kept with the UC’s emphasis on principles over concrete proposals.

“Harvard will forever rule like they want to, a dictatorship that will never care about students,” the anonymous commentator wrote. “The ad board should reflect the democratic opinion of Harvard students in our community, not the arbitrary opinion of out of touch deans that did not go to Harvard.”

Committee member Piotr P. Szamel ’10 said that two more comments had also been submitted, but their authors had indicated they did not want them to be posted.

The committee will host three more meetings this evening in Eliot and Currier, representing the other two House neighborhoods, and in Straus Hall for freshmen.

The most recent procedural revisions to the Ad Board occurred in 2001, when an independent fact finder was introduced for disciplinary cases, most commonly those involving sexual assault.

In 2004, the UC unsuccessfully pushed for the inclusion of undergraduates on the board.

—Staff writer Victoria B. Kabak can be reached at vkabak@fas.harvard.edu.

—Staff writer Clifford M. Marks can be reached at cmarks@fas.harvard.edu.