Student Organizations: Frequently Asked Questions

How does our department support student organizations affiliated with public service?

Our department supports all student organizations officially recognized by the Office of Student Life that are affiliated with public service. 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 groups affiliated with the Dean of Students Office?

PBHA is simultaneously a recognized Harvard student organization and an independent non-profit, with its own 501c3 status.  Student organizations recognized by the Dean of Students Office have broadly affiliated with public service and 

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 public service, social justice, and charitable work.

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.

DSO affiliated public service programs have NO access to the vans. It does not matter if they get a PBHA-certified driver-- the vans are off-limits to any program taht is not a PBHA programs and their participants.

How do student organizations affiliate with our department?

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) have been affiliated with our department.

Since 2010, all new public service student organizations can access technical assistance and advising from our office.