A main point of distinction in the platforms of the candidates for the leadership of the Undergraduate Council is their plan for the future of social programming at Harvard. After meeting with each ticket and hearing their plans for social programming, and after observing a campus-wide confusion related to this specific campaign issue, it has become clear to both Clay and me that more information is needed to explain the facts of the matter. Clay is currently giving a speech in Tennessee, so the two of us have not yet been able to determine which, if any, ticket we will choose to endorse, but it is important to ensure that some basic facts be understood before the campus chooses the next President and Vice President of the Council.
—What many students and student groups might not understand—
(more in expanded post)
To simplify the UC budget, the Council basically spends its money in two ways: on grants to student groups and HoCos and on social events. The vast majority of the UC’s money is spent on the former – over 75% of the UC budget currently goes to student groups and HoCos. The remaining 25% is split between the (very popular) Party Fund and funding social events. Some students believe that the UC should no longer spend money on social events and that the Council should instead allocate all of its money to student groups and HoCos.
The University will not pick up the tab for social events or for a social programming board. Isolated incidents of University funding, including the Busta Rhymes concert in Spring 2004 and the Harvard State Fair in Fall 2005, do not represent a trend at all, but are instead the results of much more complicated situations that led to funding. With the University’s multi-million dollar investment in renovations for the College, including the creation of a Loker Pub, a Lamont Café, and a new Hilles, and the renovation of freshman dorm basements, with the pending expansion into Allston (which will more or less require the building of a new city), and with the University already funding the Campus Life Fellow position, it is not at all realistic to base a plan for social programming at Harvard on the assumption that Harvard would suddenly allocate $100,000 – $130,000 for social programming (which is the approximate number that the UC would allocate, depending on termbill revenue).
With this in mind, students and student groups should realize that if social programming is to continue at Harvard College, it will be funded by the termbill revenue of the UC. This means that a plan that relies on the University for funding social events at Harvard while the UC spends all of its money on increasing the allocations for student groups and HoCos is not at all realistic.
Furthermore, the Dean’s Office is not equipped to do the work of a sixteen-member Campus Life Committee, a twelve member First Year Social Committee, and an entire Concert Commission. It is not at all realistic to base a plan for social programming on the work of the few people in University Hall who deal with social events.
All tickets believe that the UC should reform its approach to social programming – And Clay and I completely agree. The Campus Life Committee of the UC in its current form is inadequate and recent programming by the UC has certainly been disappointing. But if students should control the spending of their money, and if students should be able decide which social events they want, the answer to our problems is not – and cannot feasibly be – a total reliance on University Hall.
We are encouraged that students are interested in improving how the UC and the University plan for social events on campus, and we hope that this information adds to a productive discussion.
Matthew J. Glazer
President, Harvard Undergraduate Council