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Can't Tell the Players Without a Program

University Committees: A History Since April

By Ronald H. Janis

IN THE BEGINNING there were no committees. Then Harvard was created, and the next day there were committees.

But in the EBB (cra before the bust) there were so few committees that either people knew what they were, or they didn't know and couldn't care less. James Q. Wilson knew what the Wilson Committee was, for instance. But as he complained to the CRIMSON in late March, just before the close of the EBB, no one else knew or cared. Not the Faculty or the students.

But the tide changed on April 9.

At first it was the Committee of Fifteen. Everyone understood the function of that committee and a lot of people even knew who was on it. Then the Wilson Committee became prominent because its report was so widely circulated that people began to browse through it in the bathrooms of Lamont. Then it was the Committee of Sixty-Eight, the Committee of Five, the Fainsod Committee, the Friendly Committee, and on ad infinitum.

For the first few weeks people knew what the committees were and what they were supposed to do. But after that you were lucky if you could remember that the Stadium Committee was not a committee of the Faculty investigating the possibility of selling Harvard Stadium to the Volpe Construction Company.

By June the situation still seemed managcable if you did a little homework. But in September when the University got going again they put the whole mess out of reach of the average comprehension. Even the lady in the University News Office said she thought things would be cleared up a little if the CRIMSON ran a feature on the Committees.

Now the confusion that surrounds the growth of the University's committees is mind-boggling. The only thing to compare it to is the confusion that shrouds the factions of SDS. Indeed, both segments of the University have grown so complicated that you need a program to know the players.

The Committee of Fifteen

The Committee of Fifteen is the most visible and vocal of all the committees created out of the chaos of last April. According to the motion of the Faculty on April 11 the committee had three responsibilities: "investigate the causes" of the April crisis, assume the responsibility of disciplining students involved in the building take-over, and, after consultation with all concerned parties, "recommend changes in the governance of the University."

The first charge of the committee to investigate the causes of the crisis was also the easiest. It involved the collection and assimilation of hundreds of pages of statements of opinion, and culminated in the pamphlet that was sent to all students before they returned to school this year.

The second charge-of disciplining students-presented the committee with a more controversial problem. It was a problem they managed with masterful timing, making known its decision just before Commencement and just after final exams were over.

The third charge-that of suggesting changes in governance-was not quite as easy as timing announcements or publishing reports. The essential problem with this issue was that a committee of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences could not properly suggest how the whole University should be governed. A solution to this turned up when a new committee was proposed, the Committee on University Governance (to be explained shortly).

Probably the most interesting facet of the Committee of Fifteen was its undying nature. Instead of being a temporary committee elected to solve some limited issues it now appears to have become the workhorse of the administration. It is as changeable as a chamelcon and it has as many uses as a baggie. And because of this, as you will see, one keeps meeting its members in the strangest places.

A final note on the Committee of Fifteen must be made for the students of Harvard College. This reporter remembers being told in his House that the rather strange arrangement of having each House and the whole Freshman class elect one member each, and then having three members selected at random from the resulting eleven candidates, was a makeshift process. Many students had the impression that the student selections for the Committee of Fifteen were simply a temporary arrangement. This impression was reaffirmed by the fact that the three students who were finally selected were all graduating seniors.

But at the beginning of this year, new students simply appeared on the committee. Their positions were apparently sanctioned by the fact that they were the alternates, elected last spring; yet no announcement accompanied this change. Consequently, there was never any discussion about the possibility of new, and perhaps more equitable, elections.

The Friendly Committee

The Friendly Committee was one of two special committees set up by the Board of Overseers at their first meeting following the April 9 incident. The purpose of the committee was to study "those factors in the University and in Society which made possible the recent events "at Harvard, and to recommend appropriate action.

The committee derived its name from its renowned chairman, Judge Henry Friendly. In addition to the chairman, there were four other members, all Overseers, and a secretary who was a young Boston lawyer and recent Harvard graduate.

The first function of the committee to find the underlying factors that caused the affair-was partially completed by the start of this school year. The result was the Friendly report which was run in full on these pages of the CRIMSON the first day of school.

This document was an interim report but its main suggestion-to establish a University-wide Committee on Governance-was approved by the Board of Overseers. Thus, the Friendly Committee even as it continues to exist, has engendered another committee.

The other special committee of the Overseers was involved with a short range study of the events of April 7-14. It reported shortly after it was set up, and then, its task being completed, dissolved.

Committee on University Governance

The University Committee on Governance is probably the most impressive sounding committee set up so far. It consists of thirty-five members drawn from throughout the University, including representatives from all the graduate schools. Its purpose is crystal clear: to suggest changes in the governance of Harvard University.

But this committee has also been the center of some controversy. The controversy began when President Pusey amended the suggestions of the Friendly Committee.

The Friendly Committee had specifically included in its report a suggestion that representation for the committee should be drawn along proportional lines. That is, they suggested that the Faculty of Arts and Sciences get the highest number of representatives because it was the largest school, and that other schools get fewer representatives with the exact number depending on their relative size, President Pusey sought to simplify this formula by granting the graduate schools equal representation while still giving the School of Arts and Sciences a slightly larger representation.

The Pusey arrangement, which has now been instituted, grants the School of Arts and Sciences five representatives (three Faculty members and two students) while allotting the graduate school three representatives (two Faculty and one student). The committee also includes one representative of the Associated Harvard Alumni, and one Fellow of Harvard College to represent the Corporation.

This controversy is only important because it led to a deeper discussion about the meaning of this committee. Some said that the Friendly Committee had meant for the Committee to be a kind of Constitutional Convention and thus had wanted an arrangement for proportional representation. On the other hand, Pusey had disagreed with the emphasis placed on this Committee and had tried to undercut it by climinating its one man/one vote nature.

This argument seems irrelevant, however, for the importance of what the Committee suggests will still be clear. In either case the conclusion of the Committee on Governance will still have to be submitted to the Friendly Committee, and then to the Governing Boards for their approval.

The selection of the members of the Committee is another minor point of controversy. Pusey wrote to the dean of each graduate school asking that he select members for the Committee in any way that appeared fitting. In many cases the appropriate way turned out not to be the elective process; and President Pusey was left open to the charge of trying to control the selecition of members for the Committee.

In the School of Arts and Sciences this matter was avoided because the Committee of Fifteen had been charged with just the task that the Committee on Governance was supposed to take up. Consequently, their mandate to join the larger Committee was clear; and, apparently to avoid any disputes about who should get the five spots on the Committee, Professor Heimert, the spokesman for the Fifteen, announced that the five spots on the larger Committee would be rotated among the fifteen.

In any case, President Pusey has appointed John T. Dunlop to chair the Committee and it will have its first meeting next week.

The Freund Committee and the Joint Committee

The Freund Committee began as the Committee of Five, but as soon as the celebrated Law School Professor, Paul Freund, agreed to chair the committee, it took on his name.

President Pusey personally established this Committee in early May to investigate allegations of Faculty misconduct during the April affair. The Committee, composed of five senior members of the Faculty, was to be only a fact finding commission, not a disciplinary board.

By the middle of the summer the Freund Committee had finished its work, and the Joint Committee was established to mete out punishment for those members of the Faculty who the Freund Committee indicated were guilty.

The Joint Committee held hearings for the accused and then recommended punishments which were later approved by the Corporation. Their most famous decision was the Stauder case.

But with the Joint Committee one again meets the members of the Committee of Fifteen. For the Joint Committee was composed of two senior members of the Corporation and three Faculty members from the Committee of Fifteen.

This is the first of several functions of the Committee of Fifteen for which it had no clear mandate. The resolution which established the Committee of Fifteen had asked the Committee to deal with the discipline of students involved in the University Hall takeover. It did not mention Faculty discipline.

The Committee on Rights and Responsibilities

The Committee on Rights and Responsibilities is the second instance where, as one Faculty member put it, "the Committee of Fifteen spread its legitimacy mighty thin."

The Committee of Fifteen drew up the plans for this new Committee to enforce the code of rights and responsibilities that was passed by the Faculty last June. The Committee was meant to be a kind of super-Administrative Board, and indeed did include members of the regular Administrative Boards (the regular body for student disciplinary matters). The purpose of the Committee was to deal with incidents like that of last April.

But the right of the Committee of Fifteen to set up this new Committee and then serve on it was not quite as clear as the right of Richard Nixon to live in the White House. Nevertheless, the Faculty passed a resolution recognizing this Committee at its meeting last Tuesday.

James Q. Wilson of the Committee of Fifteen is now its acting chairman.

The Fainsod Committee

The Fainsod Committee actually predates April. It was established in January of 1969. But it only assumed a visible role in the affairs of the Faculty beginning in April.

The Fainsod Committee had as its initial claim to fame that it was the midwife at the birth of the Committee of Fifteen. It set up the ground rules and conducted the elections for that Committee.

Now, however, the Fainsod Committee's nine members are returning to their original task: to look into ways of restructuring the governance of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.

This task is probably the most important one facing the Faculty this year, and the recommendations of the Fainsod Committee will be extremely decisive in defining the issues of Faculty power and the role of students in sharing that power.


Most important of the Committees not yet considered is the Standing Committee on Afro-American Studies. This Committee also existed before April. But its character was radically changed during the crisis, when the Faculty voted to allow six students to become members of the Committee.

This Committee has had the responsibility of developing the Afro-American Studies Department at Harvard. It is not, however, to be confused with the search committee of the Afro program, which worked last year to fill Faculty places in the Afro-American Department.

There was, of course, the ROTC negotiating Committee which was established in April to set specific guidelines for any future ROTC contracts with the Defense Department. Its job was short and the Committee had disappeared by mid-May.

Finally, there was the largest committee, the President's Emergency Consultative Committee. It had 68 members from throughout the University including the graduate schools. Its purpose was never any clearer than its title.

This large group met only once, supposedly because it was too big. This does not mean that President Pusey thought it was too big to consult with, or too meaningless to consult with. It was only too big because it met on the second floor of University Hall and an architectural consultant for the University said that the Committee was too big and too heavy a group, in light of the weakness caused to the structure of the Administration building during the April occupation.

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