UC Goes To Bat for Club Sports, Nixes Newspapers

High cost of newspapers would detract from student groups, Council says

The Undergraduate Council voted yesterday to deny a proposed plan that would have put copies of The New York Times in campus dining halls.

Opening a meeting that occurred the day after a laser tag-themed UC retreat, President Ryan A. Petersen ’08 looked to defuse any verbal gunplay that might accompany consideration of the newspaper legislation.

“I know this is sort of a testy issue, but I think we can get through it...politely,” he said.

Even before Petersen’s comment, Soren Rosier ’10, a key sponsor of the newspaper bill, said he was well aware that there would be opposition.

According to Rosier, the newspaper plan—which originally called for a UC allocation of $1,700 to purchase copies of the Times for dining halls—had received enough votes in the weekly Student Affairs Committee meeting to be considered on the UC floor, but had failed to garner the majority necessary to be officially recommended.

UC Representative Tom D. Hadfield ’08 hoped to push the bill through with an amendment stating that instead of funding the whole project, the UC would simply match any House funding put toward newspapers. The alteration also would have allowed houses a certain freedom in choosing which newspaper was placed in dining halls.

Neither aspect of the amendment proved to be enough to allay the concerns of the bill’s doubters.

“We’re already on a very tight budget,” Jon T. Staff V ’10, a vice chair of the UC’s Financial Committee (FiCom), said, adding that the money earmarked for newspapers “will not go to cultural events” or “political rallies.”

Despite the bill’s demise, Rosier, who in the aftermath of a New York Times-funded trial period earlier this year received about 350 testimonials in support of the program, acknowledged that there were other avenues of bringing about the arrival of dining hall reading material.

He said if students presented the newspaper proposal to FiCom as a student group grant request, it would “most likely” be funded.

At last night’s meeting, the UC also considered a grants package for student groups and a position paper favoring UC advocacy on behalf of club sports, both of which passed with relative ease.

The club sports bill aims to improve the transparency of the process used by the club sports office and FiCom to award funds to club teams, while “trying to make sure that there is not [a] high barrier of entry to club sports for students on financial aid,” according to Michael R. Ragalie ’09, a co-sponsor of the bill.

Ragalie said there were plans for UC representatives to meet separately with the club sports office and the financial aid office this week to discuss the legislation.

Harvard club sports are currently funded at a rate below that of peer institutions such as Dartmouth and Princeton, according to statistics cited in the UC legislation.

—Staff writer Christian B. Flow can be reached at cflow@fas.harvard.edu.