Students who are up for expulsion from Harvard College or the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences will no longer have their cases debated and voted on by the full Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
The Faculty unanimously voted yesterday to give the 18-member Faculty Council the authority to expel a student by a two-thirds vote.
Previously, two-thirds of the Faculty present at a Faculty meeting had to vote to expel a student, while now 12 professors out of 18 would need to vote in favor of expulsion.
“There is something wrong with distributing to the whole Faculty who may or may not come to the meeting confidential and sometimes volatile materials,” said English Professor Elaine Scarry, a member of the Administrative Board Reform Committee, at the Faculty meeting.
History Professor Charles S. Maier ’60 said in an interview after the Faculty meeting that after an expulsion case a couple of years ago where the allegations themselves were contested, it became clear that it was too difficult to acquaint a large group of faculty members with the details of a particular case.
“There was no way for us to make an informed judgment,” Maier said. “Our only vote was for us to support the Ad Board’s recommendation or not to support the Ad Board.”
This change to the expulsion process was one of many reforms proposed by the reform committee, which began a review of current Ad Board policies in November 2007. The group presented its findings to Dean of the College Evelynn M. Hammonds in March.
FAS Dean Michael D. Smith said that when the Faculty Council met to discuss the proposal last week they decided to extend the change to cover GSAS students as well as College students.
When Rev. Peter J. Gomes inquired as to whether students could appeal their Faculty Council decisions to the entire Faculty, Botany Professor Donald H. Pfister, chair of the Ad Board review committee, said that the group had not included an appeal option in their proposal.
Maier asked whether they would propose for students to have a separate representative from the resident dean, so that the dean would not have to act as “both a prosecutor and a defense attorney.”
Current rules prevent anyone other than the resident dean from speaking on a student’s behalf during Ad Board proceedings.
Pfister said that as part of the proposal, the committee suggested that faculty members could be trained to serve as another representative for students in addition to their resident deans, though this suggestion has not yet been brought before the Faculty for a vote.
“I’m not sure what the students think of all of this,” Gomes said in an interview after the meeting. “I have no idea whether they think it is good or not, but I think it is better than it was.”
Scarry said that other parts of the committee’s proposals that require Faculty approval would be brought before the Faculty this semester.
—Staff writer Bonnie J. Kavoussi can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
—Staff writer Lauren D. Kiel can be reached at email@example.com.