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College, PBHA At Stalemate In Negotiations

College, PBHA Differ Over Future

By Matthew W. Granade and Andrew K. Mandel

College administrators and student leaders of Phillips Brooks House Association (PBHA) face a stalemate in what has become a two-year showdown over the structure and autonomy of Harvard's largest public service organization.

At two private board meetings this month, the PBHA's board of trustees considered an alternative proposal to last June's resolution allowing the organization to hire and pay its own staff--a "last ditch" effort by student leaders to reach a compromise with the College, according to Amanda Spector '98, PBHA secretary.

The board learned at its second meeting that the College, who owns the organization's residence, Phillips Brooks House, and provides funding to PBHA, would not accept this proposal.

Under the agreement, an executive director--hired and paid by PBHA--would report to the College on safety and liability concerns and to the trustees on program issues, and the executive director could hire and pay additional staff who would report to PBHA.

"That's not possible," said Dean of the College Harry R. Lewis '68. "People who work in a University building work for the University. They have made several proposals that are not things that we can accept in the context of PBHA."

In June, the trustees voted to allow PBHA to hire and pay its own staff, including an executive director who would report exclusively to the board, but the College threatened to sever ties with the student group if it instituted this change. If PBHA breaks away from Harvard it would lose its building, support for fund-raising and the other privileges of a student organization, officials said at the time.

PBHA President Roy E. Bahat '98 said the organization is now researching the consequences of its various options. These include leaving the University; staying and accepting the College's demands; staying and attempting to hire its own executive director; and spinning-off certain programs and leaving others with the College.

Bahat said it will take some time to come to a decision and that one will probably not be reached before the fall.

"PBHA is not going anywhere anytime soon," Spector said.

The College is currently preparing a paper for PBHA, outlining the consequences of its various options, according to Dean of Students Archie C. Epps III.

When asked about the organization's future, Lewis said "that's for it to decide." The compromise agreement reached last summer between the College and PBHA--which resolved several structural disputes of the past--expires on Aug. 31.

College officials must have input in selecting an executive director because "that person will be a Harvard employee," said Archie C. Epps III, dean of students and a trustee of PBHA.

Epps also said the College must approve PBHA's other hirings as well and would give "no guarantees" that all of PBHA's requests to expand staff would be met.

"Each case will be considered the normal way," he said. "The decision is made based on the quality of the argument and the actual need."

In some of his first public remarks on the negotiations in several months, Lewis said the College had been prepared to make last summer's one-year compromise agreement permanent until PBHA officials demanded to hire their own staff.

Last summer's agreement established the position of executive agent, reporting jointly to the College and PBHA as the organization's top official, and created the board of trustees--consisting of PBHA supporters, students and College representatives--as PBHA's governing board.

But the most recent episode underscores the board's precarious power. Though the trustees are legally responsible for the governance of PBHA, their resolutions must meet with the College's approval.

"That's the crux of the governance problem," said Bahat. "The whole issue challenges the board's autonomy and control."

When PBHA's student cabinet approved the hiring proposal at the beginning of May by an overwhelming majority, 65-1-1, it was hailed as what could be a permanent compromise in the long standing battle over the organization's structure.

These hopes were dashed at a contentious board of trustees meeting last month, when the trustees narrowly passed the resolution to allow PBHA to hire and pay its own staff, including an executive director

PBHA President Roy E. Bahat '98 said the organization is now researching the consequences of its various options. These include leaving the University; staying and accepting the College's demands; staying and attempting to hire its own executive director; and spinning-off certain programs and leaving others with the College.

Bahat said it will take some time to come to a decision and that one will probably not be reached before the fall.

"PBHA is not going anywhere anytime soon," Spector said.

The College is currently preparing a paper for PBHA, outlining the consequences of its various options, according to Dean of Students Archie C. Epps III.

When asked about the organization's future, Lewis said "that's for it to decide." The compromise agreement reached last summer between the College and PBHA--which resolved several structural disputes of the past--expires on Aug. 31.

College officials must have input in selecting an executive director because "that person will be a Harvard employee," said Archie C. Epps III, dean of students and a trustee of PBHA.

Epps also said the College must approve PBHA's other hirings as well and would give "no guarantees" that all of PBHA's requests to expand staff would be met.

"Each case will be considered the normal way," he said. "The decision is made based on the quality of the argument and the actual need."

In some of his first public remarks on the negotiations in several months, Lewis said the College had been prepared to make last summer's one-year compromise agreement permanent until PBHA officials demanded to hire their own staff.

Last summer's agreement established the position of executive agent, reporting jointly to the College and PBHA as the organization's top official, and created the board of trustees--consisting of PBHA supporters, students and College representatives--as PBHA's governing board.

But the most recent episode underscores the board's precarious power. Though the trustees are legally responsible for the governance of PBHA, their resolutions must meet with the College's approval.

"That's the crux of the governance problem," said Bahat. "The whole issue challenges the board's autonomy and control."

When PBHA's student cabinet approved the hiring proposal at the beginning of May by an overwhelming majority, 65-1-1, it was hailed as what could be a permanent compromise in the long standing battle over the organization's structure.

These hopes were dashed at a contentious board of trustees meeting last month, when the trustees narrowly passed the resolution to allow PBHA to hire and pay its own staff, including an executive director

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