Institute of Politics (IOP) Director Sen. David Pryor will unilaterally dissolve the IOP's 30-member student governing body, effective Dec. 1, Pryor announced to the surprise of SAC members at a breakfast meeting Thursday.
Though Pryor and the Student Advisory Committee(SAC) have been discussing a potential restructuring of the committee since last spring, the decision came out of the blue, said SAC members.
"I am surprised by this proposal because our programs have been very successful this year," said chair of the IOP's study groups committee Robert M. McCarthy '02. "The IOP has problems but none of them is so serious that it necessitates something so drastic."
Pryor said Thursday night that the SAC had to be dissolved because he felt the IOP has become stagnant, attracting only one type of undergraduate. The move was necessary to create a system that allows and encouraged more undergraduates to participate, he said.
"We've had continuing discussions about SAC and the best way to achieve openness and to be inclusive, and I felt it was the best decision to just begin anew," Pryor said. "It will be a new day at the Institute of Politics."
According to Pryor, SAC has become too "vertical" and is not composed of a diverse group of individuals.
SAC members are chosen by an election of outgoing members of the committee. A planned election in December for next year's group has now been canceled.
"I am not blaming this on any one student or students, it just happened this way over the years," Pryor said.
SAC--or any IOP student governing body--needs representation from student organizations not affiliated with the IOP, Pryor said.
Pryor said he discussed the move with IOP staff members and non-SAC students, faculty, former IOP directors, former SAC members and members of the IOP's Senior Advisory Committee before taking action.
"There was a general consensus that it was time to make a change," he said.
Some SAC members have interpreted that to mean Pryor simply does not want their leadership in place anymore. SAC is led by Chair Hannah Choi.
"He wants to move out the students that are in charge right now and get some fresh blood in right now," said one SAC member who wished to remain anonymous. "He thought that we all had a bad attitude. He has a problem with students wanting to have a say in the program. He sees us as just a thorn in his side."
Thursday, Pryor also abolished the Community Action Committee and the Harvard Political Union, two of the IOP's eight student-chaired committees.
He will hand-pick the chairs of the remaining committees next semester. Future plans for committee election format is as yet undecided, Pryor said.
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