News

The Path to Public Service at SEAS

News

Should Supreme Court Justices Have Term Limits? That ‘Would Be Fine,’ Breyer Says at Harvard IOP Forum

News

Harvard Right to Life Hosts Anti-Abortion Event With Students For Life President

News

Harvard Researchers Debunk Popular Sleep Myths in New Study

News

Journalists Discuss Trump’s Effect on the GOP at Harvard IOP Forum

U.C. Speeches at FAS Meetings Irk Officials

Will Simons' Questions Be the Last Straw?

NO WRITER ATTRIBUTED

The recent actions of Undergraduate Council members may soon jeopardize the courtesy they currently enjoy in speaking at meetings of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS).

Several top University officials charge that a council member once again breached the rules governing student comments at last Tuesday's faculty meeting.

Marco B. Simons '97, chair of the council's Student Affairs Committee, posed several questions during the meeting's question-and-answer period. Simons' inquiries focused on the Faculty Council's recent rejection of an Undergraduate Council proposal to extend student representation on the FAS Standing Committee on Public Service.

The issue was not part of the meeting's agenda.

The latest allegation against an undergraduate council member follows a request by Secretary of the Faculty John B. Fox Jr. '59 urging the students to limit their statements in faculty meetings. Fox's request came in the wake of an unusual number of questions posed by Undergraduate Council executives in last month's meeting.

According to the FAS "Rules of Faculty Procedure," only student members of the Committee on College Life, Committee on House Life and Committee on Undergraduate Education are allowed to speak during a meeting--and only on matters "relevant to the interest of these committees."

Although Simons sits on all three committees, none have discussed the issue of representation on the Committee on Public Service.

"The problem is that none of the student-faculty committees have discussed this issue," says Fox. "Questions asked [in faculty meetings] are supposed to be about matters discussed in committee."

Simons says he notified Fox the morning of the meeting by e-mail of his intention to speak but says Fox did not reply before the meeting.

At the meeting, Simons asked the Faculty for a formal explanation of the Faculty Council's decision to reject the proposal.

He said his only knowledge of the decision came from a letter to The Crimson written by Professor of Government and of Sociology Theda Skocpol, a Faculty Council member and the chair of the Committee on Public Service.

In response, Dean of the Faculty Jeremy R. Knowles asked Simons to consult Dean of the College Harry R. Lewis '68.

"May I suggest that you discuss this matter with the dean of the College?" he answered repeatedly.

Simons also questioned the basis for the committee's existence, particularly since the two student public service organizations on campus, Phillips Brooks House and the Housing and Neighborhood Development program, consider the committee "illegitimate," he said.

In light of these beliefs, Simons asked the Faculty to reopen negotiations with the Undergraduate Council in order to reconstitute the committee.

Knowles, visibly agitated, answered for the last time, "Let my answer stand."

President Neil L. Rudenstine, chair of the meeting, initially hesitated before eventually recognizing Simons.

"The chair's response was quite deliberate," Fox says. "The dean's answer was also quite deliberate."

Simons, who had never attended a faculty meeting before last Tuesday, says he understands the basis for Knowles' response but says he feels justified in asking the Faculty for answers.

"It seemed that the Faculty Council's decision had been made with substantial misinformation," Simons says.

Other Undergraduate Council members present at the meeting say they support Simons' decision to confront the Faculty.

"I don't think he went too far," says council Treasurer Edward B. Smith III '97, who spoke at last month's Faculty meeting. "I think it was something we had to do."

Matthew W. Granade contributed to the reporting of this story.

"May I suggest that you discuss this matter with the dean of the College?" he answered repeatedly.

Simons also questioned the basis for the committee's existence, particularly since the two student public service organizations on campus, Phillips Brooks House and the Housing and Neighborhood Development program, consider the committee "illegitimate," he said.

In light of these beliefs, Simons asked the Faculty to reopen negotiations with the Undergraduate Council in order to reconstitute the committee.

Knowles, visibly agitated, answered for the last time, "Let my answer stand."

President Neil L. Rudenstine, chair of the meeting, initially hesitated before eventually recognizing Simons.

"The chair's response was quite deliberate," Fox says. "The dean's answer was also quite deliberate."

Simons, who had never attended a faculty meeting before last Tuesday, says he understands the basis for Knowles' response but says he feels justified in asking the Faculty for answers.

"It seemed that the Faculty Council's decision had been made with substantial misinformation," Simons says.

Other Undergraduate Council members present at the meeting say they support Simons' decision to confront the Faculty.

"I don't think he went too far," says council Treasurer Edward B. Smith III '97, who spoke at last month's Faculty meeting. "I think it was something we had to do."

Matthew W. Granade contributed to the reporting of this story.

Want to keep up with breaking news? Subscribe to our email newsletter.

Tags