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Students to Serve on Allston Committee

By Stephen M. Marks, Crimson Staff Writer

Students from the College will be added to the group charged with studying undergraduate life in Allston, University President Lawrence H. Summers announced yesterday, after some students protested the lack of representation in the process considering options for a cross-river campus.

The University announced last Thursday the confirmed membership rosters of five Allston planning committees—on undergraduate life, science and technology, professional schools, housing, culture and urban life and master planning—none of which included students.

Undergraduate Council President Rohit Chopra ’04 blasted the composition of the undergraduate life committee, which will be chaired by Athletic Director Robert L. Scalise and Divinity School Dean William A. Graham, a former House master.

“To not have undergraduates on the undergraduate life committee is just comical,” Chopra ’04 said on Thursday.

The council adopted a resolution at its weekly meeting Sunday night demanding more input into Allston planning and Chopra, President-elect Matthew W. Mahan ’05 and their vice presidents had planned to send a letter to Summers and Dean of the Faculty William C. Kirby—who oversees the undergraduate life task force—requesting student membership on the committee.

Chopra and others said the stakes were especially high because the undergraduate life committee would be the one charged with examining the possibility of moving undergraduate Houses across the Charles River, the most speculative—and most controversial—part of Summers’ current Allston “planning assumptions.”

Summers indicated the change in course at an interview yesterday, but declined to comment on specifics of how students would be represented, or why students were not initially included, referring further questions to Kirby.

Kirby wrote in an e-mail late last night only that he would be inviting students to serve on the task force.

Chopra said that although he had not yet received a formal invitation for student participation, he welcomed the new tack.

“I’m glad to see that the president has come to the realization of the importance of consultation with students, faculty and alumni,” Chopra said.

“Quick turnaround, huh?” he added in a post to the council open list.

Mahan hailed the addition of students to the committee as “a great step forward.”

“I think it’s absolutely vital that we have some kind of student input into any kind of planning that’s going to impact the student body,” he said.

But he added that the University must not be complacent in its efforts to consult broadly with students.

“I don’t think putting two students on a committee is a substitute for going out to the whole student body—I think that still needs to happen,” Mahan said.

—Staff writer Stephen M. Marks can be reached at marks@fas.harvard.edu.

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