Frequently Asked Questions

What is PSN?

The Public Service Network are independent student organizations, officially recognized by the Office of Student Life, that are public service programs. Public service programs offer services that primarily benefit the community; from direct services like tutoring and mentoring to advocacy efforts to raise awareness of critical issues.

What are the differences between Phillips Brooks House Association, Inc (PBHA), and the Public Service Network (PSN)?

PBHA is simultaneously a recognized Harvard student organization and an independent non-profit, with its own 501c3 status.  Programs within in the Public Service Network are recognized student organizations of Harvard College.

On a practical level, PBHA programs have different demands of their programs, in addition to the ones required of all official Harvard student organizations. Each of the directors of programs is accountable for governance of the entire organization, elect officers, hire staff and must follow rules set by the organization. For example, all of their tutoring programs must complete training offered by PBHA.

Both groups are in the Phillips Brooks House and share some administrative systems because this house was built specifically to support activities related to social justice and charity.

Who can use the vans?

Those vans are owned by PBHA and can only be used by drivers certified and insured by PBHA, to transport participants in PBHA programs. Due to the cost of insurance and liability of driving twelve passenger vans, only PBHA drivers can use the vans for PBHA-sanctioned purposes.

PSN programs have NO access to the vans. It does not matter if they get a PBHA-certified driver-- the vans are off-limits to PSN programs and their participants.

How do program become part of the Public Service Network?

Traditionally, programs that would benefit from having an advisor with knowledge of public service programming because they worked individually with anybody described as vulnerable (i.e. children, teens, elderly, homeless or the disabled) or had programming which carried some level of risk (i.e. travel, large amounts of funds) were made part of the Public Service Network.

Since 2010, all new public service student organizations which apply for official recognition are assigned to the Public Service Network.