Council Supports Autonomy For PBHA

Siding with the students in their debate with the University administration about jurisdiction over Phillips Brooks House Association (PBHA), the Cambridge City Council last night overwhelmingly passed a bill supporting a PBHA run by students.

The bill, proposed by Councillor Francis H. Duchay '55, states that the council "supports and celebrates PBHA Incas move toward a more rational, autonomous and unified operational configuration where its student run public service and social action programs will be supported by a staff employed by PBHA Inc."

Duchay said the University's recent appointment of Judith H. Kidd as the new assistant dean of public service and director of PBHA places the staff in a compromising position.

"I recognize the enormous effect from the college students' work in Cambridge," said Duehay, who serves on the National PBHA Advisory Committee. "But it is increasingly more difficult for students to work with the administration."

In the resolution, the council concludes that PBHA's mission "is jeopardized with support staff inevitably finding themselves in conflicts of interest between the demands of PBHA Inc. and Harvard Corporation."

The resolution states that the conflicts arise because PBHA and the Corporation have traditionally disagreed on "resource allocation, programmatic intent, programmatic practice and bureaucratic oversight."


Before the council voted, six student representatives of PBHA, the largest public service organization on Harvard's campus, spoke to the council detailing various services the organization performs in Cambridge.

"PBHA sponsors adult education, tutoring of children, work with the elderly and two homeless shelters," said PBHA President Vincent Pan '95-'96.

The recent appointment of Kidd and the subsequent firing of long-time PBHA Director Greg A. Johnson '72 has enraged many of the student leaders of the 1,700-member organization, who feel the administration is unfairly clamping down on PBHA to exercise more control over its affairs.

"The appointment of the assistant dean made it clear that they weren't considering the desires of the students and the community, Pan said.

In the brief council debate that followed, Vice Mayor Sheila T. Russell said. "I don't know much about what goes on behind the gates of Harvard, but I do know that many people in this community benefit a great deal from PBHA."

The vote to pass Duehay's resolution was unanimous, except for the abstention of May or Kenneth E. Reeves '72, who said he had a conflict of interest because Johnson is his "spouse of 27 years." Reeves and Johnson are domestic partners.

Despite his conflict of interest, Reeves voiced his support for the resolution, calling his experience with PBHA, both as a student and now as a member of the National Advisory Committee, a "life-changing" experience. He condemned the appointment of Kidd.

"It is arrogance that prevails in this decision," he said. "The University's concerns are fiscal when they have $6 billion and are in the process of raising another $3 billion."

The representatives from PBHA cheered when the resolution passed.

"People will realize that what we're trying to do is responsible and we're serious about it," said Pan.

Cantabrigian Arthur Santoro, a speaker on an unrelated topic after the PBHA vote, spontaneously thanked the students "from an old man listening to young people doing great things."

The representatives of the PBHA plan to seek a similar resolution from the Boston City Council and are planning a 5,000-person rally in front of the John Harvard statue on December 7.Crimson File PhotoThe council 'supports and celebrates PBHA Inc.'s move toward a more rational, autonomous and unified operational configuration

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