Green Grants Voted Down

Members also call for creation of Wellness Tutors

In a debate carried over from last week’s meeting, the Undergraduate Council last night voted against allocating $800 for a test period that would grant extra funds to student organizations that support environmentally sustainable events.

The Green Grants Bill, which would have given up to an additional $200 to student groups that incorporate policies such as using soy-based inks for printed materials and buying products in bulk, failed by a vote of 24-19, with two abstentions.

Jason D. Park ’06, who spoke against the bill, said that while he supports the intention of the bill, he believes its procedural mechanisms are “dangerous.”

“My argument is not about environmentalism, it’s about procedure,” Park said.

“We’re talking about giving students money for things that cannot be tangibly measured,” said Park, who is also a Crimson editor. “We have no way of gauging whether this has any impact on the student body.”

Council Secretary Jason L. Lurie ’05 offered a different objection to the bill, saying that this would be a “step-backwards” in terms of removing the council from overt political stances. Lurie cited examples of position papers passed by previous councils that admonished the invasion of Kuwait in the first Gulf War, apartheid in South Africa and the purchasing of grapes farmed by migrant workers.

“When the council passed those, the U.C. kinda sucked,” Lurie said. “We weren’t respected.”

Supporters of the bill, including co-sponsor Allison I. Rogers ’04, said the legislation doesn’t focus on political aims.

“It’s not a political position at all, but a way we can teach [student groups] how to efficiently use materials,” Rogers said. “We give hundreds of thousands of dollars to students and we are not teaching them how to use it.”

The council also overwhelmingly passed a position paper calling for the creation of Wellness Tutors and Proctors, who would provide information on mental health. If created, the responsibilities of the position would most likely be assumed by current tutors, bill sponsor E.E. Keenan ’07 said.

Joshua A. Barro ’05 questioned whether the training for these new positions would be more extensive than Sexual Assault Sexual Harassment (SASH) or Bisexual, Gay, Lesbian and Transgender (BGLT) tutors.

“It seems a wellness tutor would require more training than a SASH or BGLT tutor,” Barro said. “I feel like we should wait to have that information before voting.”

The position paper passed by a vote of 37-3, with two abstentions.

In addition, the council approved its ninth grants package of the year, which allocated over $19,000 to student groups, including $3,500 to BlackCAST’s Eleganza.

The Eleganza grant—which was increased by $1,500 through an amendment—drew criticism from some council members because of the event’s $10 admission fee.

“I think this is a great event and it deserves a lot of money,” Barro said. “But the student impact is a lot less because students have to pay out of their own pockets.”

Teo P. Nicolais ’06, chair of the council’s Finance Committee, justified the funding increase, noting that the event is estimated to draw between 600 and 700 people.

“We need to have large-scale events on campus,” Nicolais said.

In other business, the council approved $300 worth of Harvard University Dining Services vouchers for refreshments at a meeting of all of the House Committees this week.

Members authorized a temporary loan from the Finance Commitee’s grants fund to the Campus Life Committee (CLC) in order to fund student groups at Springfest, because CLC did not have enough funding.

Also during the meeting, Vice President Michael R. Blickstead ’05 said that the council’s keg pick-up service, which ran yesterday, was not “overly sucessful,” and that he hopes the second pick-up date—in two weeks—will be more sucessful.

Blickstead announced that the council’s online tool allowing students to rate parties will be operating on the council’s website today and tomorrow.

—Staff writer Jeffrey C. Aguero can be reach at aguero@fas.harvard.edu.