Council Hopefuls Go Head to Head

Lela A. Brodsky

Undergraduate Council presidential candidates MATTHEW W. MAHAN ’05 and AARON S. BYRD ’05 take part in a debate yesterday, presenting platforms that focused on social life and student advocacy.

Rifts over campaign issues and council records emerged in a debate between the Undergraduate Council’s presidential candidates held yesterday.

All four candidates—Joshua A. Barro ’05, Aaron S. Byrd ’05, Matthew W. Mahan ’05 and Jason L. Lurie ’05—fielded questions from Crimson editor and former council reporter Alexander J. Blenkinsopp ’05, the audience and each other.

At the Science Center debate, they articulated platforms that focused on social life and student advocacy, but varied from broad visions for Harvard student life to more specific program proposals.

Mahan spoke of building a stronger Harvard community “where you care about the relationships,” arguing that his experience dealing with administrators as chair of the Student Affairs Committee (SAC) has prepared him for the presidency.

“Too many students are unhappy and unexcited to go to Harvard,” he said.

He presented solutions that ranged from improving mental health resources to increasing the number and quality of campus social events.

“We get kicked out of our parties at 1 a.m., though I may have taken care of that this morning,” said Mahan, who is currently working with administrators to extend party curfews.

Byrd insisted that he is “about ideas” like increasing Board Plus money, putting sourcebooks in every House library, extending hours that meals are served in the dining halls and attracting quality acts to Sanders Theatre.

He called Sanders “a venue that is ours that caters to elderly people.”

Byrd defended his relative lack of council experience, asserting that he was “trying to set a vision out there” of a president who will bring a fresh face to talks with administrators.

“I’m a common sense guy; I’m an honest person; the administration can be spoken to just like you and me,” he said.

Improving lighting on Cambridge Common in order to increase student safety and creating an online forum in which students could sell textbooks were two issues presented by Barro, who is chair of the council’s Finance Committee.

He also advocated capitalizing on “over-competitive” Harvard students in the constant quest to improve campus parties by offering cash prizes for the best events.

Lurie focused on universal keycard access and bringing back current council President Rohit Chopra ’04.

Lurie said that he would try to employ Chopra as a paid administrative assistant should he win the election.

“I’m not really running alone. I’m running with Rohit,” Lurie said. “Rohit’s the good cop. I’m the bad cop.”