Council To Improve First-year Social Life

The social well-being of first-years was spiced up last night.

In an Undergraduate Council meeting that focused on social events for first-years, the council created—effective next year—a First-Year Social Committee (FYSC).

The amendment to the coucil’s bylaws introduced by members of the First-Year Caucus, creates a “department” of the council with 22 members to plan social events for first-years.

The amendment passed with wide support.

Sponsors of the bill noted that first-years do not benefit from House Committees—organizations that plan social events in upperclass Houses. Rather, first-years rely on the their representatives to the council to plan social events like the First-Year Formal.

Consequently, first-year council members said, they must spend more time than other representatives planning social events.

“This frees up first-year reps to do more work on our committees,” said amendment co-sponsor Matthew W. Mahan ’05.

The FYSC will include 20 first-years, five elected from each first-year council election district two weeks after the fall’s general council elections. First-year council members may also serve on the FYSC.

Additionally, two liaisons —not necessarily first-years—will be appointed by the council president to advise the committee.

The committee will also have its own budget supported through event revenues, though the council may need to lend it money, the bill’s sponsors said.

While some council members opposed the approval of the bill, as they felt the relationship between the FYSC and the council was ill-defined, most council members voted in favor of the new committee.

Council member Rohit Chopra ’04 said that council members have attempted to create a social committee for first-years in past years.

“It’s going to have a real tangible effect on social life,” he said.

Given the highly-competative nature of first-year council elections, council members noted the FYSC will help to incorporate students who are eager to participate in the improvement of the Harvard student life, but do not win the election.

“It’s another demonstration of the UC expanding its breadth on campus. It will increase diversity on the council,” said Council President Sujean S. Lee ’03.

In other business, the council passed a $350 grant to the Prefect Program for a first-year movie night. The consideration of the grant had been postponed from last week because it was unclear whether the Prefect Program is funded by the Freshman Dean’s Office (FDO).

This week, the council’s Finance Committee found that the FDO did not fund the Prefect Program for all of the events it plans.

Some council members argued that the council should not grant funding to the program in order to force the FDO to fund it.

But the council ultimately approved the funding by a wide margin.

“We should appear as the heroes of the freshman and save the program,” said council member Zachary L. Bercu ’03.

—Staff writer Claire A. Pasternack can be reached at cpastern@fas.harvard.edu.