At the request of President Bok, the House Masters are presently formulating a group statement on unofficial cohabitation in Harvard dorms between students of opposite sexes.
The Masters, who met twice in the past month to consider the issue and will meet again this afternoon are expected to agree on a position within the next month on how much cohabitation exists, what the rules concerning it are, and what the Administration's attitude toward if should be.
President Bok said yesterday he asked the Masters to begin the discussions after he received several letters from parents asking if University rules allow male and female students to live together.
According to Zeph Stewart, Master of Lowell House, rooming rules stipulate that a student is not allowed to live in a room to which he is not assigned. Stewart said yesterday, however, that in many Houses this rule is not enforced.
Bok said that lack of enforcement of the rule has left him unsure of how to respond to parents' letters.
"If we have practices one way and realities another way, we ought to figure out what the divergences are and what we ought to do about them," he said. "I don't want to have to be faced with reading rules out of the rule book to parents and then having them tell me that the realities are something entirely different."
Bok said he wanted the Masters to draw up "some thought-out policy" on sexual cohabitation. But he said, "I certainly don't contemplate some massive parietal brouhaha."
Stewart said that he does not expect that any rules will be changed, but he would not speculate on whether existing rules forbidding a student from living in a room to which he is not assigned would be enforced.
The discussions the Masters have held so far have been primarily concerned with conveying information to Bok on cohabitation and on how many students are living in not their own rooms, Stewart said.
"We're trying to make clear what is going on, what people think about it, and what the rules are," Stewart said. "People differ a good deal about what they think is true here."
Neither Stewart nor any of the other Masters would disclose the specific contents of the discussions, the range of opinions expressed, or their own personal views on the cohabitation issue. One Master, who asked not to be identified, said. "It's the only subject we have ever talked about that's been pointedly confidential."