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College Providing Free Advice On Finances to Student Groups

By Thomas H. Howlett

The College has begun to provide free financial consulting to some student organizations this spring and will offer the fiscal advice to all interested campus groups next year.

The program-now in its early stages-pays an individual consultant to confer with the student officers of organizations, evaluating and advising on general bookkeeping and the more complex procedure involved with filing non-profit tax returns.

Archie C. Epps III, dean of students, who initiated the project, said this week that Harvard would pay about $500 annually to allow undergraduate groups to seek the consultation of John A. Tyler, partner in the Fresh Pond accounting firm of Goodness and Tyler. Tyler said yesterday he had agreed to commit 60 hours per year to advising Harvard groups.

Although Epps said Harvard has occasionally helped straighten out the financial messes of students groups in the past, the new effort represents a more comprehensive attempt at helping all campus groups, not just those in dire need.

No Particular Impetus

Epps said the financial advice program had been planned for a long time and had not been sparked by any particular fiscal mess like the problems of the now-defunct Harvard Delivery News Service (HDNS). In the spring of 1980, Epps took out loans totalling $14,000 and used $2000 in his office's "discretionary funds" to pay off the HDNS debts.

In the past financial advice was irregularly given by a three-member group consisting of a lawyer, an accountant and an alumnus. But now one consultant will provide help in group sessions as well as advice to individual organizations, taking what Epps called "preventative measures" aimed at establishing campus-wide fiscal soundness.

Tyler has only given a moderate amount of consultation this spring. He has met with the Harvard Advocate and the Harvard Band as well as a gathering of House Committee officers, he said.

Epps arranged the meetings this year, but he stressed that he wants the College's role in the new service to be minimal, encouraging a direct relationship between Tyler and each interested group.

It's important that this office not run the undergraduate societies," Epps said.

Advocate Gets Help

Advocate President Lynne H. Murphy '83 said that Tyler "gave us some helpful advice" in their one meeting, particularly by clarifying how income collected from renting part of the publication's building might affect the group a tax stage.

Murphy said no specific financial concern had prompted the session, saying rather that the Advocate has recently been "scraping by", because of economic hardships experienced by College publication over the past decade.

Harvard Band Manager Aprille L. Murphy '83 could not be reached for comment last night. Epps said my particular element of the bands: finances necessitated the advice-governing instead the band-which actually is three bands jazz concert and "marching"-has a lastly complicated structure where fiscal analysis might be of particular help. Epps said.

The general information meeting for Home Committees did not focus on any particular House budget and was sparsely attended, Epps said.

Both Epps and Tyler said next year's group sessions will be more intensive because they will be open to all student organization. But each cautioned that the project was expected to be low-key with the program's effectiveness dependent, on student initiative.

"I see my role as being a consultants--in other words, responding to requests," Tyler said. "If you give a three years of mature attention, I think you'll see some very significant changes."

"It's a question, I think of momentum at the point," he added.

Beyond bookkeeping and tax return advice, Tyler speculated that in the near future student organizations could begin to utilize computers-either Harvard's system or a privately owned one-to assess expenses more easily and efficiently

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