The Undergraduate Council (UC) passed bills in support of cheaper coursepacks and co-educational housing at yesterday’s Council meeting.
In addition, the UC passed a bill recommending an increase in the training provided to first-time teaching fellows (TFs), and also passed a report on the results of an online survey polling students on what they would like to incorporate in a women’s center.
The Council’s report on lower prices for coursepacks found that many articles could be freely accessed through the E-Resources available through the University’s library system. The report found, for instance, that all 30 articles in the $60 Social Analysis 10 sourcebook could be found online for free.
Passed unanimously by the Council, the report recommended that Harvard Libraries offer training to faculty and TFs to make articles available through E-Resources on course web sites. The report also recommended the creation of a “centralized resource efficiency optimization center” that would hire work-study students to assemble the online resources that could replace or reduce the cost of printed coursepacks.
Council member Matthew R. Greenfield ’08, a co-sponsor of the bill, said that it was not cost-effective for the University to pay for the copyrights of articles in coursepacks.
“They’ve already invested so much money into E-Resources, that it might as well be well-used,” he said.
Reducing the cost of coursepacks was also a matter of academic equality to UC members. “It’s unacceptable that some students can’t take courses because inordinately high prices make the readings unavailable,” said Ryan A. Petersen ’08, the Student Affairs Committee (SAC) chair.
“So long as students have to pay the same copyright prices twice, Harvard is essentially robbing them,” he said.
The UC’s report in support of co-educational housing, co-sponsored by chairs of the Harvard Bisexual, Gay, Lesbian, Transgender, and Supporters Alliance (BGLTSA), passed with near-unanimous support of the Council.
“The general purpose of the bill is to call upon House Masters and the College administration to make a serious reform to the College’s restrictive co-ed housing policy,” sponsor of the bill Eric I. Kouskalis ’07 said. “We think that every student in every House should have the opportunity to live in a co-ed room if they wish to do so,” he said.
Kouskalis said that according to the Handbook for Students, the University’s current policy allows students to live in co-educational dorms at the discretion of a House Master only if they live in a room in which “the configuration of space ensures a large degree of privacy.”
Students who wish to live in mixed gender dorms also often have to pay for any room modifications—such as bathroom locks—that are required by the University.
“The policy that we have right now seems too paternalistic. Students really deserve the choice of who to live with, regardless of gender,” Kouskalis said.
The bill in favor of improving TF standards made a recommendation to require all first-time TFs to attend a teaching conference sponsored by the Bok Center for Teaching and Learning prior to the start of their first semester.
The report also recommended having TF evaluations in the first month of class and providing three free meals to allow TFs to meet with students during meals.
The report of the results of the women’s center survey—conducted by the UC through its web site—passed the Council after a debate by members and constituents on the merits of the center.
The sponsors of the bill stressed that the report itself was not for or against the establishment of a women’s center but was conducted in order to receive input on the resources, atmosphere, and qualities of a women’s center that students would like to see incorporated.
—Staff writer Brittney L. Moraski can be reached at email@example.com.