Undergraduate Council Plan Helps HoCos and Students

In regards to accusations made in Monday’s article, “Activities Fee Opens Spending Debate,” (News, Nov 22) that Undergraduate Council President Matthew W. Mahan ’05 and the Council are not adequately funding House Committees this semester, I must strenuously disagree.

The Council has set aside $3,500 per HoCo this semester, a record amount. Last year, by comparison, the council allocated on average $3,317 per semester to each HoCo. Contrary to what has been said, this is obviously an increase over last year’s funding packages. Furthermore, last fall, HoCos spent only $15,831 out of $41,279 allocated to them—a rate of only 38.4 percent. It is therefore prudent for the Council to allocate only what HoCos have demonstrated that they will spend. Thus, the Council made the reasonable decision to allocate $18,800 from the Committee Fund, the fund that provides for all concerts, movie nights, shuttles, and similar projects, to HoCos. Once a HoCo has spent all money allotted to it through the Committee Fund, it may receive an additional $2,000 from the Grants Fund.

The consequences of this funding scheme are threefold. First, those HoCos that actually put on the most events are eligible for a record funding level.  Second, those HoCos that do not take advantage of Council funding do not render the Committee Fund inoperable due to large, unspent allocations. Finally, with the problem of unused allocations dealt with, the Committee Fund is freed to put on campus wide events that have, in the past, been impossible to allocate money for.  At the same time, the Council has also increased Student Group funding from $180,000 to over $230,000 this year and Constitutionally mandated that at minimum 2/3 of the Council budget go to Student Group funding from now on.

Rather than renege on making Harvard a home, Mahan and the Council have found a pragmatic and financially sound way to fully fund needy HoCos, dramatically increase Student Group funding, and finally provide the campus with big name concert acts, such as the recent Bob Dylan concert.  Despite it being time for Council Presidential elections, let’s give credit where credit is due and refrain from disingenuous political posturing that, in the end, only serves to misinform students about the Council’s actions and prevent meaningful debate on how it can continue to serve students.

JUSTIN R. CHAPA ’05

Nov. 23, 2004

The writer is a member of the Undergraduate Council, representing Pforzheimer House, and co-author of last year’s House Committee Funding Packages.