Students in Service and Leadership at Harvard

2018 Blueprint for Harvard Student Partnerships


I Principles and values in Harvard student partnership

Principles: The core tenets of a student-administrative-institution partnership that are cornerstones of what partnership means.
Values: The ways these core tenets are expressed; what comes out of these tenets and what behaviors or actions arise from these tenets.

* Honesty
* Mutually beneficial- both parties gain from the partnership, whether that’s through learning new skills or reaching a broader audience through the partnerships. 
* Mutual respect- both parties respect each other as equals with balanced decision-making power
   * Respect refers to one’s time, experiences, and position(s)
* Transparency when it comes to both the decisions being made and the intentions behind those decisions.
* Partnerships between students and the higher education institutions they attend should be student-centered, with focus on making sure student voices are heard and student representation is given on student issues.
* Shared responsibility- both parties should be assigned tasks and duties that they have to fulfill within the partnership. Additionally, everyone should be aware of one another’s responsibilities, and should hold each other accountable. 
   * Students are students before anything else. 
* Successful partnerships result from good communication and trust 
* Malleability on ideas and actions for the promotion of growth 
* Reasonable expectations and opportunities for students 
   * There are still things that students should not expect to have a say on
* Active mentorship is essential for an equitable partnership so that students can be informed participants in their roles 

* Vision (future perspective)
* Constant communication
* Flexibility
   * Certain partnership models have buy-in into specific types of partnerships. Flexibility comes out of how a specific partnership has chosen to work. 
* Equal Equitable responsibility
   * Work is shared with respect to what students should take on, and what is the administration’s responsibility
* Freedom to state one’s own opinions
* Diversity in perspectives 

In student partnerships, it is necessary for the faculty and staff to understand that at the end of the day the students are STUDENTS first; but it is also necessary for students to be respectful of equitable power and not expect to have a say on everything. 

A successful partnership mutually benefits all parties by focusing on the learning and development.

Partnerships must be mutually beneficial to all partners involved. There must be a shared responsibility to build the relationship between partners to make every situation, every space, and every process better for everyone.


II Key issues in student partnerships

* Students should be involved in community outreach programs and efforts to make the university more accessible to the general public. They should be able to contribute by helping run these programs and contribute suggestions for improvement from their own personal experiences. 
* Students should be involved in the development of the advising programs on campus, including the creation of expectations for those advisors. 
* Students should be represented at and listened to during meetings and committees that focus on health, mental health, and Title IX issues and services.
* Students should be aware and make active effort to include, voice, and note the importance of intersectional advocacy and actions within their communities of focus. 
* Specific issues in which students should be involved in varying ways:
   * Sexual assault policy
   * Honor policy
   * Alumni-student relations
   * Cambridge-Boston relations
   * Public services
   * Representation on governing bodies
   * Faculty hiring
   * Connection to Harvard graduate schools
   * Admissions
   * Diversity and inclusion
   * Presidential search
   * International students/Transition to college
   * Academic programs
   * Corporation 
   * BGLTQ support
   * Dining
   * Course & GenEd development
   * House Life
   * Advising & Mentorship
   * Amnesty Policy
   * Freshmen adjustment and social life
   * Social life
   * Finances
   * Financial aid
   * Renovation & Expansion
   * Mental health 

III Structures and processes of student partnerships

   * The faculty-student relationship could be stronger, and faculty should be more accessible. 
      * Office Hours
         * Faculty should have a minimum requirement, and create the expectation that students can just come and talk to them, and don’t need an intense question to go. 
      * Advising
         * Every faculty member should be directly involved with student advising (minimum amount of student contact) 
      * Accountability
         * Faculty held accountable to reviews in addition to Q guide comments and scores 
   * Decision-making on academic affairs should involve students.
      * Students should be informed before new faculty are hired, and asked for input about their research, focus field, etc.
      * There should be at least one student from each year appointed to a student advisory board for each department. As a minimum, these students should be involved in thinking through new course offerings in each department and be consulted on any changes to academic or concentration requirements.
      * How their concentrations should progress (i.e. If you are a philosophy concentrator, a form for students to express their desire for more diverse thinkers in curriculum.)
      * Formalize student voice in faculty discussions (whether it is google forms or students allowed to speak during faculty meetings).
   * Clearer ways for students to give feedback on faculty/teaching throughout the semester 
   * Continue student representation on Honor Council--and use as a model for other partnerships

   * Every OSL-recognized student group should have formalized advisors with training and expectations
   * Club advisors should be required to meet with a small group of students some number of times per month
   * Administrator/Deans should have open office hours for students to drop by each week 
   * Decisions/discussions impacting students’ social life should involve students there!

IV Seizing opportunities and overcoming challenges to partnerships

   * Student engagement has become a buzzword; how can we ensure that partnership is more than just symbolic?
   * What can we do to incentivize faculty engagement in student life?
   * Administration puts the burden on students to find successors to continue their battles on campus. So to speak- task forces and committees are often juggling transitioning leadership and catching a younger generation of students up to speed on how far progress on an issue has been made, and how to get done what needs to be done. Instead, overcoming this challenge would be a mutual acknowledgement that the administration / university itself must be involved in helping pass down this role to new generations of students, as older students graduate and cannot keep pushing their demands. The administration and students will not be able to engage in partnership if there is an implicit expectation on the side of the administration that student efforts will die out and be recycled every four years. 
   * Harvard tends to work in time increments of years; that is to say, university projects have long timelines. Furthermore, career administrators come to and leave Harvard in search of better opportunity, so there is a lot of administrative turnover. With slow-moving processes and little consistency in staffing, how can students ensure that their efforts have longevity? What type of precedents must we set for partnership to ensure that student efforts are carried to fruition?
   * The administrative and faculty experience is so disjoint from that of students, so students are asked to fill in gaps in administrative knowledge. Is this a burden that students should take on? How can we relieve/transform this burden?
   * While the value of student voices comes from the ability to fully and fairly represent the student experience and perspective, the power imbalance disincentivizes students from being controversial or adversarial. What sort of immunity can we provide for students who are part of administrative partnerships?
   * The liberal arts education prioritizes within classroom experience, but when students spend time fulfilling roles normally meant for administrators, they compromise their ability to engage fully with their classwork. How can we ensure that students experience the full value of their education while remaining involved in extracurricular activities?

   * Recent faculty turnover should allow for students to be involved in the hiring process of diverse faculty.
   * The creation of Ethnic studies can bring many advantages to address the needs of diverse student population (serve as a pathway to hiring (diverse) faculty who are engaged with student needs. 
   * All faculty should be trained to be more consistently student-facing in order to be continuously informed of the issues students face and have fewer instances of falling short of meeting their needs in the long run. 
   * Support the flourishing of student leadership grounded in reciprocity will allow for greater student participation university-wide 
   * Paying students to serve on task force committees could promote the participation of underrepresented communities within Harvard University. 
   * The creation of future projects such as the multicultural center will provide new committees that could include student representation.
   * Students within committees often don’t have the skills nor the space to speak up, but peer students can help train their predecessors on necessary leadership skills. Faculty could be involved in leadership training. 
   * Student input through formalized conversations can make education quality higher because it accounts for diverse viewpoints and allows Harvard to meet its mission of training “citizen leaders.” 
   * Student leadership training can provide both students and faculty with the resources and skills to reach the most effective action plans efficiently.

Prepared by students in SOCIOL130 1.0 - Spring 2018:
Abigail Koerner ‘21 (Sociology)
Amy Tan ‘20 (Sociology and Mathematical Sciences)
Anant Pai ‘19 (Applied Mathematics and Sociology)
Andrew Perez ‘20 (Sociology and Statistics)
Ben Sorkin ‘20 (Sociology and Social Anthropology)
Catherine Leigh Zhang ‘19 (Psychology)
Cindy Soo Hyun Jung ‘19 (History)
Gemma Collins ‘18 (History)
Javier Cuan-Martinez ‘18 (Computer Science)
Jessica Jin ‘18 (Sociology)
Juliana Rodriguez ‘19 (Social Studies)
Kay McGarrell ‘18 (History of Science, Mind Brain Behaviour)
Louis Kenechukwu Aghanwa ‘18 (History & Science: Science & Society, Global Health & Health Policy)
Margot Dionne ‘20 (Social Studies)
Melisa Santizo ‘20 (Sociology)
Milton Dorceus ‘19 (Sociology)
Nina Srivastava ‘18 (Social Studies)
Rachel Shirley Saganty ‘18 (Molecular & Cellular Biology and Global Health & Health Policy)
Rena Simkowitz ‘19 (History and Science and Sociology)
Ronni Cuccia ‘19 (Sociology)
Samyra Miller ‘21 
Tatiana Patino ‘20 (English)

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