UC Rep Resigns After Expulsion

After three semesters as a representative from Mather House, Neil “Buddy” Shah ’05 resigned from the Undergraduate Council Friday.

A member of the Campus Life Committee known best for his central role in organizing the council’s $1 movie nights, Shah said the combined time drains of completing graduate school applications and writing his senior thesis compelled him to give up his council seat.

“If you’re going to be on council, you should be extremely active,” Shah said. “You have an obligation to put in a lot of time and energy. I just didn’t have that time and energy anymore.”

On Friday, Shah was due to defend his attendance record before the council’s Executive Committee, which includes President Matthew W. Mahan ’05, Vice President Michael R. Blickstead ’05 and five other officers.

Council members who are absent from three or more meetings must appear before the next Executive Committee session in order to explain their absences, according to Section 22 of council bylaws. A two-thirds vote is required in order to be reinstated to council.

Though several council members are expelled in the course of a semester, most are reinstated—as John F. Voith ’07 and Samita A. Mannapperuma ’06 were this week.

Mahan said it was “not that uncommon” for senior thesis writers to relinquish their council positions.

“This was the first time it has happened this year,” Mahan said, noting that special elections are usually held about two times per semester.

“Buddy would have been reinstated if he had tried,” Chair of the Campus Life Committee (CLC) Christina L. Adams ’06 said. “He said at the meeting that he thought he couldn’t improve his attendance record.”

An economics concentrator currently enrolled in five economics classes, Shah said this was the first time he had missed three meetings during a semester.

“I didn’t feel guilty, but at the same time, movie nights weren’t enough to justify my staying on council,” Shah said.

Yet Adams said Shah was a valuable member of CLC because he “was almost single-handledly in charge of movie nights,” which typically demand about 10 hours of planning and committee meetings per event.

“He brought such a good spirit to CLC meetings,” Adams said. “We will miss him.”

At last night’s meeting, the council passed a resolution thanking Shah for his service to the council, an action that previously was reserved for deans and administrators.

A special election for the empty Mather House seat will take place sometime in February. Shah said he hoped this election would bring “young blood” to the group and added that he found his council experience educational.

“I learned a lot about being an effective planner and organizer,” he said.

—Staff writer Elena P. Sorokin can be reached at sorokin@fas.harvard.edu.