Council Allocates Funds to Walkout

Amendment to ban funding defeated 32-11

The Undergraduate Council overwhelmingly defeated an amendment yesterday that would have denied council funding for a walkout organized by the Harvard Initiative for Peace and Justice (HIPJ).

The package of student grants proposed by the council’s Finance Committee (FiCom) allocated $210 for HIPJ’s “Student Walkout.”

According to HIPJ member Kevin P. Connor ’04, 850 students have pledged to leave their classes in protest should the United States launch military action against Iraq. A vocal demonstration outside the Science Center is planned to follow the walkout.

The grant, which was ultimately approved by the council, will be used by HIPJ to purchase a megaphone, Connor said.

Council representative Joseph R. Oliveri ’05 proposed an amendment to strip the funding for HIPJ from the bill.

“It would be inappropriate for the Undergraduate Council to fund an event that disrupts the educational process,” Oliveri said at the meeting.

The amendment sparked several rounds of heated debate.

Council Vice President Jessica R. Stannard-Friel ’04 supported the funding.

“This isn’t high school. We don’t get detention for skipping class,” Stannard-Friel said. “This is a more educational experience [than class] for some students.”

Outspoken council representative Jason L. Lurie ’05 agreed with Stannard-Friel.

“All of a sudden, the conservatives on the council are saying, ‘We don’t like free speech!’” Lurie yelled, to uproarious laughter and applause. “How dare you!”

“My day is made,” council representative Michael R. Blickstead ’05 said after hearing Lurie’s impassioned remarks.

But Joshua A. Barro ’05, chair of FiCom, opposed the grant on both ideological and technical grounds.

“It is encouraging students to go counter to the reason they’re here,” he said, adding that the megaphone counts as a capital expenditure and therefore should not fall under the heading of “walkout” funding.

But council representative Mary Ellen R. Player ’04 said FiCom was aware that HIPJ planned to use the grant to purchase a megaphone.

The amendment failed by a vote of 11 to 32, with a single abstention, and the grant package was ultimately approved.