Downsize the UC

Now that the CLC is defunct, the UC can begin to restructure

It’s about time the Undergraduate Council (UC) realizes that bigger is not always better. Deeply entrenched in campus bureaucracy, the UC’s size hinders its ability to be effective. Harvard’s UC is in desperate need of a good diet—particularly with social programming now relegated outside its purview.

Fortunately, a sentiment of needed reform seems to be shared by UC President John S. Haddock ’07 and Vice-President Annie R. Riley ’07. Last week, the UC began discussing possibilities for organizational restructuring of its three main committees—the Campus Life Committee (CLC), the Finance Committee (FiCom), and the Students Affairs Committee (SAC).

It is important that the much needed restructuring of the UC begin as soon as possible. With the pending formation of an independent social programming board, the CLC will have no clear mission. The UC should dissolve the CLC and move to a two-committee system with two representatives from each house.

To fill the void of the few services currently provided by the CLC such as airport shuttles for school breaks and the provision of cardboard boxes during move-out, the UC should look to outsource services to enterprising student groups, and if necessary, consider incentivizing these initiatives through subsidizing grants. This would be a highly cost-efficient method, especially in comparison with the UC’s current system under which elected representatives with little business prowess run inefficient systems.

With respect to FiCom, the UC must also seek reform. Currently somewhat hamstrung by bylaws—one, for instance, that requires a two-thirds vote to overturn FiCom recommendations—the UC should seek to revise its bylaws in addition to changing the institution of FiCom itself.

In looking at ways to restructure, the UC must not repeat the mistakes of last spring’s direct election vote. Despite the clear interests of its constituents at stake, UC members voted down a proposal to hold direct elections to committees. Instead, they kept the antiquated and foolish election protocol in which House winners with the most votes get first choice in selecting which committee to serve on, leaving those with fewer votes dissatisfied with their roles. Last spring, UC members voted to protect their incumbency advantage rather than allocate candidate slots more efficiently. We hope that this time around they are able to put their personal interest aside—even if dissolving a committee means costing jobs for incumbents—and be responsible to their constituents and their school.

This new slimmer and sleeker UC will be more effective and more responsive to campus needs serving the best interest of Harvard College as a whole.