Gusmorino's Long Shadow

Lee's council worked closely with administration, continued focus on services

Damien A. Williamson

Former Undergraduate Council President PAUL A. GUSMORINO '02 with his successor, current President SUJEAN S. LEE '03.

The Harvard Undergraduate Council said goodbye to a beloved leader this year—though not entirely.

Paul A. Gusmorino ’02, widely credited with revolutionizing the council, not only remained a presence at virtually every council meeting, but also saw former Vice President Sujean S. Lee ’03 take the helm of the council with a pledge to continue the work he began.

After their election in December, Lee and council Vice President Anne M. Fernandez ’03 became the first successful all-female ticket since the student body began directly electing council leaders.

Their election broke a recent trend of less-than-smooth transfers of power over the past couple years. Gusmorino defeated long-time rival Stephen N. Smith ’02 in the previous election without the support of the sitting president, Fentrice D. Driskell ’01.

And Driskell had been elected in 1999 despite strong opposition from council leaders—and her presidency was mired in scandal after council members impeached and tried to remove from office her vice president, John A. Burton ’01.

This year, however, Lee and Fernandez enjoyed broad—if not necessarily enthusiastic—support from all wings of the council and campus at large.

They also enjoyed the support of another important constituent, new University President Lawrence H. Summers, who expressed unprecedented interest in the council as part of his attempt to be a presence in undergraduate life.

“He’s really reaching out to students in a stronger way than was done before,” Gusmorino said.

Summers put his money where his mouth was, offering to contribute considerable funds to this April’s installment of the council’s annual spring festival, Springfest.

With Summers’ help, the council brought a headlining band to what was the best-attended Springfest ever, though the Lee-led Harvard Concert Commission (HCC) failed in its attempts to bring three bands to campus.

Although Lee has largely continued the student service orientation of her predecessor, she has encouraged the council to address larger campus-wide issues.

A Seamless Transition

Lee ascended to the council’s top position after one of the most lopsided presidential elections in recent memory.

Lee won by a landslide, garnering over twice as many votes as her nearest opponent, Lauren E. Bonner ’04.

Lee and Fernandez were supported by Gusmorino, and their campaign was run by the same council regulars who orchestrated Gusmorino’s victory in December 2000.

Lee pledged to continue Gusmorino’s focus on student services, such as extending party hours and universal keycard access in the Houses—and she pushed ahead with expanded council-sponsored shuttle service to New York City and Logan Airport and a new committee to organize social events for first-years.