Outsider Seeks Student Focus
Vice presidential candidate Nichols brings council experience to ticket
Supporters chant “We want Moore” across campus. His canvassers wear ties around their head to emphasize Moore’s promise to “Ty In Everybody.” His website address is moorechange.com.
Moore, along with vice presidential candidate Ian W. Nichols ’06, focuses his campaign on a promise to increase the connection between students’ wishes and the goals of the council.
But Moore’s critics question his ability to lead with no council experience.
At the council’s presidential debate last Thursday night, questions to the Moore-Nichols ticket largely focused on Moore’s lack of council experience in contrast to his opponents, who are seasoned council veterans.
But Moore says that having no council affiliation works to his advantage.
“We have seen what strong leadership has gotten us...Jim Breuer, bounced checks and broken promises,” Moore said at the debate.
Aaron S. Byrd ’05, a Moore-Nichols supporter who ran for president on a similar platform last year, says that council experience is not a requirement for good leadership.
“The UC is not rocket science. That’s what [council members] like to project,” says Byrd, who served on the council for three semesters.
Jack P. McCambridge ’06, who served on the council for two years, says that experience is the only way to gain the trust of the administration and push initiatives through.
“Having those types of relationships and having a track record is the most important thing,” says McCambridge, co-chair of the Harvard Concert Commission and a supporter of candidate Matthew J. Glazer ’06. “Because it takes a while to build that trust, you need someone who is able to hit the ground running.”
But Moore and Nichols say the most important experience is interaction with students.
Though Moore, a classics concentrator from Dunster House, has never worked on the council before, he has served on the board of the Black Men’s Forum (BMF) for two years and is currently the group’s vice president. First Class Marshall Caleb I. Franklin ’05, a BMF member, says that Moore was the organizer of the groups celebration of black women last year.
“He’s a dreamer, but he will work to get it done,” Franklin says.
Moore, who grew up in Cincinnatti, Ohio, is also involved in the prefect program, CityStep, the Dunster House Committee (HoCo) and the Spee final club. The Moore-Nichols ticket has been endorsed by the BMF, the Harvard Black Students Association, the South Asian Association, the Texas Club, the Spectacle of Soul Project, the Krokodiloes, the Entourage and former Council President Rohit Chopra ’04.
“My leadership experiences have... given me the ability to interact with students in social atmospheres,” says Moore. “I’ve seen it all. This broad perspective is absolutely necessary for a council president.”
Unlike Moore, Nichols—a physics and astrophysics concentrator from Leverett House—has served as a council representative for five semesters. He co-founded the Harvard Beer Society, is a member of the Mission Hill Mentoring Program and volunteers weekly at the Harvard Square Homeless Shelter.
In the middle of last week’s hectic campaign schedule, Nichols managed to pull a 12-hour night shift at the shelter.
“I’m the most experienced of the vice presidential candidates,” says Nichols, who currently serves as the vice chair of the council’s Finance Committee and last year served as the committee’s first-ever policy chair. “We complement each other very well.”
Criticizing his opponents for campaigns based on laundry lists of initiatives, Moore says he focuses instead on the broader problem of weak student support for the council.
“The reason that we keep it short and sweet is that you have to have some kind of focal point,” says Moore. “Of course we are going to work for all the other stuff, but first we need to have the students behind the council. Nothing can get accomplished without student support.”
Moore and Nichols say their primary concern is open and effective communication with students.
“I’m rather displeased with the way the council is working right now. It’s totally disconnected from the students,” says Nichols. “We want to build this thing from the ground up. We want to give the students what they want.”
Former FiCom Chair Joshua A. Barro ’05, who supports the Moore-Nichols ticket, says that the candidates would bring a much-needed “culture change.”
“I think the council’s biggest problem is that it is not paying attention to students anymore,” Barro says.
Moore and Nichols charge that many council members become so immersed in council politics that they aren’t willing to push the administration to get what students want.
“Instead of taking risks and advocating for what you need—things like universal card access or a 24 hour dining hall—these out-of-touch candidates from the council have put their resume building first,” Moore and Nichols write on their website.
“We need to address the issues that aren’t being resolved and tell the students what the problems are,” Nichols says.
For Moore and Nichols, these issues include more financial support for student groups such as HoCos, and diversity among Harvard students and faculty.
They believe that student groups currently face far too many hurdles in getting the resources and space they need.
“The Financial Committee wastes so much money just paying for student groups to pay for the use of Harvard buildings,” Nichols says.
Moore and Nichols also say that increasing diversity on campus will raise “the level of education we receive.”
“This means actively seeking out those who will present greater diversity of opinion—women, minorities, conservatives, etc.,” they write on their website.
“We want to have students give different departments recommendations as to who they should consider hiring,” says Moore. “A big thing we will try to push is a diversity oversight committee.”
And Moore, who has more than 600 supporters in his campaign’s group on thefacebook.com, says he is optimistic about the upcoming election.
“We have a pretty decent shot of becoming the next president and vice president of the Harvard Undergraduate Council simply because we connect to the students,” he says. “We operate with respect, and I think that as long as you do that, you’ve got a good chance.”