Dean Monro explained yesterday the details of the new House selections system, designed to "accomodate varying degrees of interest" among students and Masters in expressing preferences in the selection process.
Under the new procedure, all final decisions will be made by the Committee on Assignments, composed of Faculty members, Deans, one Master and one senior-tutor.
Freshmen, who are scheduled to receive application forms today, will be permitted to express "substantial" reasons for House preferences in accompanying letters to Dean Monro. The Masters will be able to request the assignment of individual students who submitted letters of preferences for their Houses. They may also ask for particular categories of students-such as musicians-if they wish.
Monro emphasized that student letters of preference are encouraged, explaining that the "system depends quite heavily on them," In addition to preferences by students and Masters, the Committee will make assignments on the basis of the quotas used under the old system, which are designed to create a cross-section of the freshmen class in each of the Houses.
The new procedure, Monro explained, is an attempt to eliminate the "popularity contests" which developed in the past when freshmen were required to express a first, second and third choice. In addition, the new system seeks to accomodate those Masters who do not wish to spend great amounts of time selecting incoming students by guaranteeing them a representative cross section of the freshmen class.
Pointing out that there are "as many different personal styles as there are Masters," Monro said that some Masters prefer to concentrate on working with students already in the House, rather than on choosing among an already carefully selected group of freshmen. Unlike the old system, which was particularly suited to those Masters who chose to devote great amounts of time to selections, the new procedure allows each Master to determine the extent of his participation.
Monro noted that by making it possible to eliminate the additional responsibilities of the old selection system, the new procedure will help "keep masterships within the range of busy professors who want to educate undergraduates."
Although some observers fear that the new system may spell the end of traditional House images, Monro maintained that student preferences, requests by the Masters for particular categories of students, and the watchful eye of the Committee on Assignments will combine to preserve traditional House strengths.
"Harvard being Harvard," Monro said, "students and Masters must be heard if they want to be," Although the ultimate auhority for making assignments lies with the Committee on Assignments Monro added, the new system "preserves an element of choice where choice is meaningful."
In accord with the new procedure, the Houses will, at the discretion of the Masters, be allowed to hold interviews whether formal or not, between March 3 and 17. The purpose of these interviews, Monro said, is to help freshmen get an idea of "substantial reasons" for preferring one House to another.
House applications, which will indicate roommate preferences, are due March 18. For the next four of five weeks the Committee on Assignments will make a "trial run," assigning approximately one-third of the freshmen class to Houses on the basis of letters of preference, roommate preference, and the quotas.
When these tentative assignments have been determined, the Committee will consult with the Masters on the decisions already made. It is during the following four weeks, that the Masters will be able to express their preferences.
These discussions between the Committee and the Masters, Monro said, will also give to the Masters a sense of What the final selection will be like.
By the last two weeks in April the decisions will have been made. Until Monday, May 16, the projected date of announcement of the results to the freshmen, the Houses will be engaged in finding rooms for the assigned students