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The History of Harvard's Commencement, Explained

Investigators Clear H.S.A. On Charges

Suggest Permanent Watchdog Committee

By Joseph M. Russin

"The HSA has been acting in good faith toward the Harvard student body," according to a report released last night by a special investigating committee of the Harvard Council on Undergraduate Affairs.

In order to "establish more efficient channels for student complaint," the committee recommended that the HCUA establish a permanent watchdog group to act as a representative of the student body and "to make a detailed analysis of the financial statements of each agency." The HSA agreed to work with such a group.

The committee, composed of three House Committee chairman and the former Student Council chairman, studied the Harvard Student Agencies for nearly two months before issuing a brief written statement and agreoing to answer questions.

"It looks all right to me," concluded John A Hodges '62, Eliot House chairman, "unless there is some great, incredible conspiracy going on."

In its report, the committee said "that the rumors and accusations of dishonesty which have been circulating either have no basis in fact or are the result of plausable, but false, inferences." The committee did find that some individual, minor complaints were "indeed valid," but that the HSA had "made adjustment to our satisfaction."

Committee Praises Burke

The committee members praised Dustin M. Burke '52, faculty director of the HSA, as being "highly cooperative" and a "very honest person."

The committee pronounced the HSA innocent of the biggest charge made against it--unnecessarily high salaries for agency managers. "We didn't find any exorbitant salaries anywhere," reported James T. Halverson '62, Adams House chairman. Figures shown the committee by the HSA indicated that no individual makes more than $2,000 a year, and that few ever earn more than $2.25 per hour.

Managers earn a basic salary and receive "incentive pay" for extra sales according to a pre-arranged contract. If an individual greatly expands the business, he "naturally" will earn a good deal, explained Michael A. Washburn '62, chairman of the committee. The next manager, however, then has a higher basic quota to fill.

The committee learned that 36 of the HSA's 43 managers are on scholarship or have clear financial need according to the College Scholarship Service.

Although the committee did "not have time to scrutinize the books--that's for the new committee to do," they did come up with a financial profile of a beer mug, one of HSA's most contested items. A mug sells for $5.50, of which $3.20 is basic cost and shipping. $1.00 is the average commission to the seller, 70 cents goes to the agency manager, and 60 cents goes into the HSA for overhead. The committee said it was "satisfied" with the beer mug agency's operations.

Also unfounded, according to the committee's research, were the rumors that the father of Oliver G. Kopell '62, president of the HSA, had been serving as the HSA's travel agent on charter fights to Europe.

Charles M. Warchol '62, former head of the Student Council, said that the senior Kopell did handle the business when Oliver first set the flight agency up outside the HSA, and that he handled "a small amount" of HSA business two years ago.

Although the committee decided that the "HSA is fully aware of its responsibilities" it urged the HCUA committee to make detailed financial studies, observe the "process of new manager selection," and "observe important business decisions.

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