Looking to solicit student input in administrative decisions, College officials are in the process of forming a student advisory board to the Office of Undergraduate Education.
The office’s academic resources group—comprised of academic offices including the Bureau of Study Counsel, the Advising Programs Office, and the Accessible Education Office—has proposed the board to solicit student feedback about policies that affect undergraduates.
The board looks to foster student involvement with and input in academic support programs, as well as spread information about those programs to students, said Ann Gaylin, the College’s associate dean of undergraduate education for academic support.
The effort to create a body to solicit student input in policy decisions comes a few months after undergraduates criticized administrators for moving the Bureau of Study Counsel under the College’s administrative purview.
Students questioned the change, arguing that it could compromise their privacy, as the academic counseling service had operated under a different set of confidentiality guidelines when it was formally part of Harvard University Health Services. Administrators maintained that the change would not affect student privacy, but the Undergraduate Council nonetheless requested administrative reviews of the decision in the wake of student concerns.
Gaylin, a member of the Office of Undergraduate Education’s academic resources group, and an elected student from the proposed advisory board will serve as its co-chairs, according to its website.
Although the search for undergraduates to serve on the student advisory board started this fall, Gaylin said the project has been on her mind since she came to the College.
The board’s members will share feedback about the College’s academic resources, provide suggestions for new programs, and share this information with the student body through focus groups and other events, according to the website.
“If there are any issues, we want to hear about them,” Gaylin said.
A lack of clear student-administrative communication, prior to the student advisory board, has had some students questioning the role that student input plays in College decisions, an issue that UC representatives are trying to remedy, UC President Ava Nasrollahzadeh ’16 said.
Nasrollahzadeh’s predecessor on the UC, former president Gus A. Mayopoulos ’15, chose not to donate to the annual Senior Gift fund last spring partly to make a statement about College administrators and how he said they engage with students. He argued that the administration had not “dealt openly” with students “all the time.”
Last semester and again this fall, Nasrollahzadeh and UC Vice President Dhruv P. Goyal ’16 met with Gaylin to discuss the role of undergraduates in administrative decision-making processes.
Although Goyal called the student advisory board “definitely an administrative project,” he said he values that students will be able to give input in a “streamlined channel” for communication with the administration.
In addition to the students on the UC, Gaylin said she hopes the board will include members of the First Generation Student Union, undergraduates involved with BGLTQ life, and other groups on campus.
—Staff writer Melissa C. Rodman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @melissa_rodman.
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