THE EVENTS of last Spring, as well as those of the past week, have demonstrated that there exist within Harvard University issues which, if not considered and resolved in time, are capable of causing deep and violent division among members of the University. Last April, the Faculty of Arts and Sciences showed its willingness to come to grips with issues of this sort: its resolutions on ROTC and Afro Studies restored a measure of unity to a university then bordering on complete break down. Now, at its first meeting on Tuesday, it is time for the Faculty to begin the searching re-examination of various existing policies which alone appears likely to give Harvard long-run stability.
Since April, most reform efforts have focused on restructuring the University. These efforts will probably not bear fruit for some time to come. Yet in the meantime, issue of both political and educational nature remain of concern to at least a sizable portion of the student body. The danger of concentrating exclusively on restructuring is that it can allow such substantive questions as the propriety of certain types of research and the correctness of current admissions policies at Harvard to go unconsidered for an indefinite period by many students and Faculty.
If some body within the University is now to begin trying to resolve these and similar issues, it will have to be the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, as now constituted. Many of the outstanding questions are within the legislative purview of the Faculty. Its voice on others should carry no little weight with the governing boards after the April crisis.
TAKING A thoroughgoing review of the problems of the University body politic will not be an easy task. The legislative turmoil of last April undoubtedly taxed many Faculty members to the limit of their endurance. Rather than commencing a new cycle of crisis legislation, the Faculty should now begin a more orderly process of developing answers to outstanding issues-through committees, the only means by which a legislative body of 500 men with limited time can provide coherent answers to complex and divisive questions. To provide an efficient division of labor, several ad?hoc committees should cach deal with one important issue and present its recommendations for action to the Faculty.
While many of the questions outlined below are currently under the iurisdiction of standing committees of the Faculty, the broad concern and variety of views on these issues requires that the committees which examine them be composed of a wider membership than the standing committees. The Faculty's two recent experiments in new types of committees-The Student-Faculty Advisory Council and the Committee of Fifteen-may not seem encouraging to some, but neither of these committees is comparable to those here proposed. SEAC has always suffered from the lack of a defined mandate: its mission has been to consider any issue put before it, rather than examining one area in detail. In effect, SFAC has scattered its efforts too widely, and has not had the impact which the committee would have had if it had concentrated them. The Committee of Fifteen, by contrast, had a defined mandate, but one which it had to fulfill in a crisis atmosphere.
THE QUESTION of the legitimacy of those who would re-examine current policies-this series of adhoc committees-is particularly vital. In order that each committee's report should meet with the widest possible acceptance among all interested parties-the Faculty and students alike-each committee should be elected and include representatives of the distinct constituencies within the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. The four constituencies which should be represented are: the Faculty, teaching fellows (a bridge group between Faculty and students), graduate students who are not teaching fellows, and undergraduates.
To further represent all points of view within each constituency, elections of each group's representatives should not be held along essentially artificial lines such as the Houses, but at large, under a proportional representation (PR) system. With a carefully designed PR system, each committee would be as close to a microcosm of the Faculty and its students as any electoral system could make it.
Topics which should be examined in detail by these committees include:
RESEARCH POLICIES: Should Harvard's current ban on University-sponsored classified research be extended to include some types of non-classified research sponsored by the Defense Department and similar government agencies? What new procedures, if any might be established for deciding upon University affiliation with controversial research programs?
ADMISSIONS: Do the present admissions policies of Harvard and Radcliffe Colleges reflect a desirable set of social and economic judgments? How much money must the financial aid program receive in the coming years in order to maintain a well-balanced student body?
EDUCATIONAL INNOVATION: What procedures, if any, should be established to pass upon innovative courses proposed by Faculty members? Should there be means to encourage innovative course offerings?
GENERAL EDUCATION: Is the present system fulfilling its aim of giving students a comprehension of fields of study other than their own? Can any system? What types of courses-survey or intensive study-would aid general education the most?
THIS LIST does not presume to be all-inclusive; the Faculty itself can, no doubt, determine other outstanding issues which should be examined at the present moment. Nor does the selection of issues presume that changes in present policies are required on each issue; it only indicates that these issues are those under the jurisdiction of the Faculty which seem to be of most concern at present. The existence of such a series of ad hoc investigative committees should not become an excuse for other groups to relax their consideration of these problems. Rather, they should step up, using the committees as one focus of their efforts.
On Tuesday, the Faculty can begin to set in motion this process, if only by expressing its intent to take the substantive actions needed to do so. This in itself would be a significant step toward the comprehensive and careful self-examination which, as last April indicated, has been long overdue at this university.