Harvard Student Agencies

Part of the difficulty comes from the added competition of HSA publications, although the amount of advertising revenue taken in by the Calendar would hardly suffice to keep the many publications at the College solvent if it were split among them. The Calendar itself loses money.

Burke justifies the continued subsidy of the Calendar by pointing out that it provides a needed service to the University. It supposedly gives each Administrative department guaranteed access to students' rooms with all official notices and memoranda--a list of employment opportunities, for example. This, however, is a task for the University itself to tackle; there is no reason for a nominally independent student business organization to pay for a service which the University Printing Office could offer. Individual students pay the cost in higher HSA prices while student publications suffer from a needless loss of advertising revenue.

If HSA monopoly power continues to help the commercial spirit sneak into fields occupied by non-profit undergraduate organizations, the day may come when students view activities merely as a way to make money, and not as part of the educational process. Likewise, expansion into fields where a pool of workers can offer no advantages--professional typing is a case in point, is uncalled for. The HSA argument that students who need financial aid should be given opportunities for term-time employment is indisputable; but the incessent expansion of the Agencies (which continue to hire without regard to financial need) threatens some values more important than providing non-scholarship students with extra spending money. The need to limit further HSA expansion is obvious.

Burke complains that there are already "more restrictions on HSA than on any other living organization." The Agencies, he says, are not permitted to compete with Harvard Square businesses or with the "central core organs" of student publications.

But despite these restrictions, HSA still has a history of paying little respect to the wishes of the Harvard community. It agreed not to compete directly with student publications only after several months of prolonged and often bitter negotiation. This year it was only after a great deal of pressure from the House Committees and the Student Council that the HSA agreed to furnish a special committee with financial information. And of course there is the yard linen-depot affair, in which HSA pushed through an essentially administrative decision without informing important members of the Administration, or even the companies involved.


HSA has become a self-willed monopoly. Much that it does however, is laudable. It would be foolish to advocate a return to the undesirable situation before it was created. But this does not mean that the HSA spirit should come to dominate all College activities. It would be unfair to accuse HSA of actively plotting the takeover of every lucrative enterprise at the University; it would be foolish to leave the way open so that, by slow encroachment, the HSA could expand into areas where its activities are not essential.

The new HCUA permanent investigating committee can be useful in confining the Agencies to their essential services. But the committee will be helpless unless the HSA management decides voluntarily to heed its wishes, and unless the committee itself decides to concentrate on issues more basic than cracked beer-mugs and scratched rings. The HSA's employment practices, its expansionist tendencies and charges of monopolistic practices all need to be studied, and the HSA must learn to respond to the non-commercial needs of the community. Biographical Calendar vignettes alone will not solve the problem.DUSTIN M. BURKE '52

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