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Calling for greater openness and accountability on the Administrative Board—Harvard’s disciplinary body—Undergraduate President Rohit Chopra ’04 announced last night that he will approach top deans about allowing students to sit on the panel.
Chopra said at last night’s meeting he would ask Dean of the Faculty William C. Kirby and Dean of the College Benedict H. Gross ’71 to create an ad hoc Faculty committee to investigate the possibility of adding students to the Board.
“Policy discussions that affect students ought to involve students,” Chopra said.
He said Ad Boards at other Harvard schools, including Harvard Law School, include students.
“The perspective of students is not just a valid one, but also one that ought to be included in order to reach an informed decision,” Chopra said.
The Ad Board is the administrative body largely responsible for disciplinary matters as well as individual academic issues.
“There’s a feeling that its not always a process that’s really fair to students,” Chopra said. “Student representation will give greater faith in the process.”
Chopra said that many students have approached him about the Ad Board, complaining that they feel the decisions reached are often unjust.
“The Ad Board’s lack of students has always been deeply troubling to me, as I have heard countless horror stories about experiences with the Board,” Chopra said, enumerating the complaints of one student who said that the professor who brought a complaint against him was a member of the Ad Board.
Chopra is optimistic that the administration will be open to discussion of the issue.
“I think the deans will be willing to review this because it’s time for it,” Chopra said. “There should at least be an articulated reason for why we should or shouldn’t have it.”
Chopra said that the administration’s reasoning for not including students has been that “the Ad board deals with individual students and there are confidentiality issues.”
But Yale, MIT, Stanford, University of Chicago and University of California at Berkeley all have students on their disciplinary committees, according to Chopra. “Students who have served on their boards both at Harvard’s graduate schools and at our peer institutions have found that their voice was a necessity,” Chopra said. “But perhaps more importantly, the Faculty members and administrators found them to be a necessity as well.
In other business, the council voted to allocate about $40,000 of their committee fund to House Committees in order to support House gyms, non-formal parties, Stein clubs and various capital improvements at last night’s meeting.
—Staff writer Ebonie D. Hazle can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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