A Sliver of Sanity

The funding war continues, but providing HoCos with upfront funding lessens the blow

Finally, a morsel of reason seems to have prevailed in the ongoing standoff between University Hall and the Undergraduate Council (UC) over the UC’s party fund. Don’t get too excited—the future of the party fund has yet to be resolved, student group funding is still up in the air, and the UC’s money remains frozen. But UC-termbill derived funding of House Committees (HoCos), which last week appeared to be in jeopardy, will thankfully be unaffected.

Credit for the change goes to the College administration. Last week, Assistant Dean of the College Paul J. McLoughlin II announced that money would only be forked over to the UC once receipts showing the eventual destination of its money had been handed over. That edict all but torpedoed upfront UC funding for student groups and for HoCos, which receive $4,500 per term from the UC’s coffers. This development was particularly problematic for HoCos because UC funds often go to small-scale events that promote house life in addition to larger events like House formals.

After HoCo chairs and other concerned students cried foul, the administration began to backpedal. First, it told HoCos that the money would instead be handed over to House offices, which would oversee HoCo expenditures and hand over the money as needed. Then on Monday, the College reneged and said it would start writing checks to HoCos directly because, as Associate Dean for Residential Life Suzy M. Nelson told The Crimson, HoCos are “creatures of the House” and are subject to oversight from House staff and administrators, ensuring that the funding does not go to finance underage drinking.

This is a very welcome development. Some have accused the administration of vacillating and keeping students out of the loop. Typically, however, changes in University Hall move at a snail’s pace. In this case, it appears that the administration quickly realized that it did not fully consider the implications of its prior statements and erred in announcing an overly broad policy.

The administration’s actions also demonstrate that, despite what some conspiracy-minded students would like to believe, University Hall is not on a crusade to wipe out fun at Harvard. If that were the case, administrators would not have accommodated HoCos so quickly. Instead, the administration’s approval of simply bypassing the UC reveals that they are concerned with the oversight ability, competence and competence of the UC, especially with regard to legal liability. While we feel that accord between the UC and the College is necessary, it is comforting to know that the administration seems prepared to make accommodations to support student life in the interim.

That is not to say, however, that the administration is totally off the hook. Student group funding still remains a glaring problem, and recent developments cannot erase the rash behavior of both the administration and the UC. Nonetheless, we are glad to see that the administration has not completely forgotten the deleterious side effects the funding war may very well have on student life.