Council Puts Grant Process on Hold

The Undergraduate Council’s new student group grant process, unveiled on Tuesday, has been put on hold pending approval by the council’s Finance Committee (FiCom).

The Council’s new grant application was removed from its website yesterday, until the FiCom makes an an official decision, expected today.

According to FiCom chair Joshua A. Barro ’05, the application—announced in an e-mail on Monday—was pulled because other FiCom members were concerned that they were not consulted before the application was put up on the website.

Some council members have questioned the constitutionality of the proposed change to the grant process.

Council Treasurer Justin R. Chapa ’05 laid out his objections to Barro’s revised application in an post to the council’s open e-mail list.

Citing several specific passages in the council constitution and bylaws, Chapa said that Barro had overstepped his bounds as council chair and that the grant system used in the past—where student groups submit their entire grant application together at the beginning of the semester—is required under the constitution.

Barro, however, said that allegations that his proposal is unconstitutional are based on an incorrect, “nitpicking” interpretation.

“I am confident that we are not running afoul of the constitution,” Barro said.

Barro said that a revised application, approved by FiCom, would be available on the council website Friday morning.

While Barro sent his proposal for the revamped grants process to FiCom in an email on Saturday, other FiCom members said they were never told the plan would be put into effect so soon, or without committee consent.

“It took me by surprise,” said Eric J. Powell ’03, former council Treasurer and current member of FiCom.

According to Powell, neither the subcommittee nor the rest of FiCom were consulted before Barro posted the new grant application.

“To my knowledge, no one knew it was going to happen immediately,” Powell said.

“I think I may have ended up stepping on a few people’s toes,” Barro said.

Meanwhile, as FiCom attempted to sort out the confusion, some student groups requested grants using the new application, as they had been instructed in Monday’s e-mail.

In total, sixteen grant applications were submitted, according to Barro.

But Barro said that even if the final grant application differs from the one posted on Monday, groups that have already applied for funds have nothing to fear.

“We’re going to honor everything that was filed,” Barro said.

He added that transferring the applictions to a new format would not be logistically difficult.

Council President Rohit Chopra ’04 said that although he has no role in the grant process, he hopes FiCom will make the grant process more efficient.

“I would like to see better turnaround time,” he said. “I look forward to seeing what we come up with.”

—Staff writer William B. Higgins can be reached at whiggins@fas.harvard.edu.