He asked “why won’t they let us push all of the professors to use the previous year’s textbook edition instead of the newest one which is double the price?” And “why won’t they let us organize discounted intersession and spring break packages?” And “why won’t they let us try to be involved in teaching fellow and faculty hiring committees?”
By the end of all the questions, I just explained that the Dean’s Office comes up with all sorts of reasons they can’t let us do things. But Ty quickly corrected me. He wasn’t talking about the Dean’s Office, he was talking about the Undergraduate Council.
Ty convinced me that it was impossible for the average student or student leader to tell the council an idea and expect it to become reality. By the end, he had decided that he wanted to be the one to change that.
And I now know that not only does he want to move the council forward, but he should be the one to do it. Ty Moore has the courage, the creativity and a colorful charisma to push the council to more effectively advocate on behalf of students, produce large campus events and energize the campus to create the Harvard they have always wanted.
While many might claim that it is just too risky to elect Ty as President because “he doesn’t know the difference between a motion to table and motion to postpone” or “he just doesn’t understand how we work,” they should know from someone who held the job last year that the Undergraduate Council is not about motions or meetings. Any Harvard student could figure this out. (The number of members of the Undergraduate Council in the past several years who are also elected to Phi Beta Kappa is excruciatingly small—trust me, it isn’t rocket science to learn the ropes). But there is a risk. The real risk with electing Ty Moore and Ian W. Nichols ’06 is that they will push the envelope and force people out of their comfort zones. They’ll face roadblocks and naysayers, but I have no doubt that in the end, they will be able to motivate more students to get involved and produce results.
While council contenders year after year position themselves as good caretakers who will vigilantly ensure that past programs continue, keeping the council in cruise control has its own grave risk: it leads to a jaded campus who see the council as out of touch and unable to effect change. This causes internal strife within the Undergraduate Council, and it is very difficult to recover from.
It all brings to light a question about what you want to see in your council. Do you want to elect candidates who will just make sure the airport shuttles run and that grant checks are sent out? Or do you want to elect a ticket who will be visible players in the decisions regarding the curricular review, a design for a student center and Allston?
Ty is committed to reforming the council’s outdated, decades-old structure the Faculty prescribed for it at a very different era of Harvard—where students were far more likely to be wealthy and white, where houses were not randomized and the number of student groups was just a tiny fraction of what it is today. He and Ian will bring together students, faculty and alumni to transition to a stronger organization to have a greater impact on campus. They will establish more formal working relationships with other student councils within the University to coordinate on campus events and advocacy initiatives.
And, of course, for those of us who know Ty, we know that he is a true renaissance man. He is honest about everything, respectful to everyone, and a good friend all the time.
With so much at stake this upcoming year, there’s no question that the campus just can’t afford to have an uninspiring Undergraduate Council. Ty Moore and Ian Nichols have the campus leadership experience, the know-how, the right values and the will to get things done. There’s no time to stay in cruise control, so get ready for the ride, because they are sure to change gears and make it a year to remember.
Rohit Chopra ‘04 was President of the Undergraduate Council in 2003.