On May 1, an article appeared in the Crimson titled "God Street Who? U.C. Needs to Support Events That Have Proven Popular." The article basically discredited the events done by the Campus Life Committee, a committee of the Undergraduate Council, as too costly and not well-attended by students at Harvard College. The main focus of the article concerned Springfest, the fair held in the Mac Quad last weekend and the choice to bring God Street Wine, a relatively unknown band to Springfest at the cost of $7,500. As the co-chair of the Campus Life Committee, I feel the need to answer a number of objections of this article.
As most of you are currently unaware, the Council is undergoing major reform this weekend. There are initiatives to make the Campus Life Committee, the group which organizes such events as the Gala Ball, Springfest, and shuttle rides at Thanksgiving and Christmas, a volunteer committee outside the Council. It is my contention that the passing of this initiative will be the final step of a year-long trend to eliminate the Campus Life Committee as a functioning body.
There is much debate as to where the Council's money, your termbill fee, is most appropriately spent. Two-thirds of our budget is allocated to students groups. The Council works with a little over $20,000 to run campus-wide events mentioned above. As of next year and the passage of reforms this weekend, the Campus Life Committee will no longer be a viable body. We will only be able to work with that amount of money granted to us by the larger Council of which we will hardly be a part, and considering the trend this year, our budget will be decreased even more substantially next year.
The most popular argument is that your money is better allocated to student groups which, undoubtedly, more personally affect the lives of students here, socially and otherwise. While I agree with the importance of student groups and their successful events, the Council and more specifically the Campus Life committee, must attain the ability to put on campus-wide events like the Gala Ball and Springfest. Many of you have asked me "Why can't we have Dave Matthews for Springfest?" The reason is we have no money and no real support as a committee to try to build bridges with the administration to try to bring a big band to campus. I am not advocating that the Council take money away from student groups to give to us. I simply want our budget to remain as is in order to allow us to continue the progress we have made in finding alternative sources of funding. We must be given some room in which to work. Events like the Gala Ball were a huge success and have elicited unprecedented overtures by the administration to organize again. We need to continue to improve our credibility with the administration to be able to work with them on such events.
The Campus Life Committee gets no respect on the Council. We are constantly reminded of our few failed attempts to include Casino Night and Club Loker. These events cost hundreds of dollars, but I ask the organizers of other student groups if any of their initiatives have ever failed?
Whether or not the council passes the reform this week, the Campus Life Committee has been continually undermined all year. If the Council continues in its present direction, the Committee will be relegated to an organization which puts on Harvard-Yale events and, maybe, shuttle buses to the airport. The Harvard community will not see any campus-wide social events and our overtures to the administration to attempt to bring a big name band to campus and repeat events like the Gala Ball will be discontinued. It is easy to say that student groups deserve more money. No one disputes this fact. It is harder to take to time to try to create at Harvard a place for campus-wide events which students want to have. --Catherine D. Rucker '99 Co-chair, Campus Life Committee