Scrapped Holiday Shuttles Stir Talks

Student complaints about the recent disappearance of the College’s airport shuttle service have sparked a broader debate over the structure and responsibilities of the Undergraduate Council.

While shuttle services will not be provided in time for winter break, the debate has evolved into a principled one that looks beyond this year’s holiday rush.

Recognizing that the shuttles the Undergraduate Council (UC) has provided in the past have been ineffective—shuttles were late, filled up too quickly, or did not have adequate space for luggage—council members are debating whether these services are a council responsibility at all.

Incoming UC President Ryan A. Petersen ’08 said that he is skeptical about expanding the council’s responsibilities beyond what it can handle.

“I think we have a responsibility that when we put on services, we follow through on them,” he said. “If we perform them poorly, it is far worse than us not trying to put on services at all.”

But not all UC members believe that a hands-off method is the best approach for the council to take.

Council member Brian S. Gillis ’07-’08 said he believes the council needs to create a new administrative branch to address such issues.

“This is just another classic example of how the UC should be providing service to students,” said Gillis, who finished sixth in the presidential election last week. “The UC needs a complete restructuring overhaul—then the students will have shuttles.”

But in the meantime, UC members agree that it would be a mistake to scramble to organize something before break.

“The worst thing the UC can do right now is to move into this hastily and repeat the mistakes we made in the past,” said Student Activities Committee Vice Chair Matthew R. Greenfield ’08.

The debate harkens back to this past spring’s dissolution of the College Life Committee, a former body of the UC that planned social events and provided student services.

At the time, the council recognized that it inadequately performed these functions, and it outsourced its role in social life to the newly formed College Events Board.

But no new organization took on the responsibility of providing services such as shuttles.

The events board’s vice chair, Adam Goldenberg ’08, said that “when the UC used to provide shuttles, it did a horrendous job of it.”

“But when the UC just threw up its hands and gave up entirely, it did a disservice to the student body that it claims to represent,” said Goldenberg, a former council vice-presidential candidate whose ticket placed second and a member of the Crimson editorial board. “It is incumbent on the UC leadership to find ways of providing these sorts of services more effectively than in the past.”

But the debate will most likely not be resolved under the council’s current guard.

“The new UC leadership needs to figure out for themselves how they want to tackle [the shuttle issue],” said outgoing UC President John S. Haddock ’07. “For shuttles to be successful, the UC would have to be very creative and new, and I don’t know if new is a good idea.”