Suhas Daftuar sdaftuar at hcs.harvard.edu
Wed May 17 20:57:25 EDT 2000

On Wed, May 17, 2000 at 08:27:00PM -0400, David Mitby wrote:

> the spot.  Thus I feel we have two missions -- one, to be a student
> group that exists for social benefit; thus our office is frequently
> open, we have BBQ's, we hang out, etc...  Two, we should be a group
> that serves campus and beyond.  This year we ran several successful
> seminars, did acctserv as always, did the Teach program, and more.

I've always been skeptical of the notion of "social benefit" being a
mission of the HCS.  Don't get me wrong -- I'm glad we do the
barbecues, and I'm glad people are in the office during the afternoons
to hang out.  (Though, from what I can tell, not many people have been
in the office the past month or so.  But I admit I haven't been
keeping careful track, so maybe I'm overstating things.)

But as part of our mission?  Come on.  That's just gravy.  You'd be
frightened if we were a student group consisting of members who
*didn't* like each other.  But that doesn't mean that one of the
reasons we exist is just to hang out.  

Really, how many people do you hang out with solely (or even largely)
because the HCS has social events?  We're not a final club.

The second mission you stated is one I have no problem with the
society embracing.  But we do need the society to embrace it.  Right
now, acctserv is badly understaffed.  I don't know much about seminars
except that we only had a few this year (the ones during freshman week
and the Perl seminars this semester -- anything else?).  And I have no
idea what the status of Teach is, such as how many people are doing it,
how many times it's happened, etc.

So my question is this: is this actually something that the current
society cares about?  I hope it is; I'd very much like to see acctserv
survive, for example.  But I'm worried about the participation rate.
How many members does the hcs have?  And how many of them actually are
interested in what the hcs is doing?

And if this mission isn't one suited to the current society, that
raises a whole bunch more questions.  Some would immediately point out
that it's ridiculous to have a mission that the current members don't
subscribe to or aren't interested in.  At the very least, if
this is the direction in which the board is steering the society, then
I'd expect the board to be thinking about next year's recruiting plans
with an eye to sell the community-service side of the society.

Except I haven't heard anything about any recruiting plans for next

> Finally, we must look most to the future.  One major factor that
> will change the face of the HCS (and as a board, we're already
> looking at this and preparing for it) is the creation of TECH, which
> will definitely be a reality very shortly. 

How do you see the HCS changing in the future?  What will the role of
the society be?  Most importantly, how do you plan to get there?

It's at this time that I should point out how I think the rest of
Harvard views the HCS.  It's sad, I think, that the project that gets
us the most attention around Harvard is the one that gets the least
interest in the society -- Account Services.  We get a lot of special
treatment because (and only because) we serve student groups.  In the
past, I've expressed the opinion that if the society doesn't want to
do acctserv, then we should axe it -- we don't do it because we have
to, by any stretch of the imagination.  But I even more firmly believe
that this is something that HCS members *should* do, because of the
advantages it confers, specifically with regards to our relationship
with Harvard administration.

Other people see the HCS as a service provider.  And it's this
perspective that many have argued is the reason we have things like
our computers, our office, and our air conditioner.  If this isn't a
persona we want, we should realize what the consequences are.  But if
it is, it's time we started acting like it.

I share Britt's concerns for the future of the society.  When we
rewrote the constitution last fall, several of us had hoped that
expanding the board would help bring life back to the society this
spring.  I can't say that I think this is what actually happened.


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