Social Space Push Changes Hands

UC transfers capital campaign to independent, undergrad-led nonprofit

Dean of the Faculty, Mike Smith, and Dean of Harvard College, Evelynn Hammonds, address the Undergraduate Council at last evening's meeting.
Jessica X. Zuo

The Undergraduate Council voted yesterday to transfer authority of the Student Community Center Capital Campaign—established by the UC to raise funds for a possible student center amidst controversy last May—to the independent, undergraduate-led Student Community Center Foundation, a non-profit formed over the summer.

According to UC President Andrea R. Flores ’10, the legislation came after UC leadership and campaign leaders decided over the summer that the campaign was “not functioning well within the structure of the UC” and would be more effectively managed under an independent organization, especially given that the majority of the campaign workforce comprised non-UC members.

“There are a lot of other issues in the student body, and the UC needs to apply ourselves to those,” said Cabot House representative and social space project proponent Senan Ebrahim ’12. ”We thought that [SCCF] is optimal because it has a charter that is dedicated specifically to the [social spaces project].”

Although the legislation “suspended the campaign from the UC,” the body will continue to lend support to the campaign, Flores said.

The legislation stipulates that the UC’s Student Initiatives Committee will select at least one UC representative to serve on the SCCF Campaign Advisory Council and that the UC President or their designee will serve as a member of a proposed Center’s Board of Directors. Furthermore, the UC Student Relations Committee may assist in publicizing the SCCF’s efforts.

Some UC representatives objected to the continuing relationship between the UC and the project.

“The Student Initiatives Committee is a new committee; we are still trying to figure out what our mission is,” said Quincy House representative David Gonzalez ’11. “We don’t want to tie our hands legislatively to this.”

Flores emphasized during the meeting that the UC will no longer be responsible for managing the campaign or dedicating resources to the campaign.

“[This is] our way of officially co-sponsoring [the campaign],” she said, “This is something that people on both sides of the original [debate] feel is good, not just for the UC but also for students.”

Student Community Center Campaign leader Joshua J. Nuni ’10 believes that relationship between the UC and SCCF will be mutually beneficial.

“Being part of an independent center is going to change the culture of the UC in a good way,” he said.

The SCCF has drafted an extensive discussion draft explaining the current status and future plans for the campaign. According to Nuni, the campaign has already made significant progress towards the acquisition of property for the center, which is “the most difficult step.” He estimates that the campaign could know within a month about the prospects of purchasing 45 Mt. Auburn St., which is the campaign’s primary property target.

The document also outlines the Foundation’s vision for the student center, which proposes space for arts as well as intellectual and social programming. The center will be student-run, with a Board of Directors composed of students, alumni, and potentially a member of the administration.

“We want to create a space that is social but substantive,” Nuni said.

During the meeting, the UC also affirmed its financial sponsorship of the DAPA grants program, which lost its funding from the administration last year due to budget cuts, according to DAPA grants chair Siri F.A. Uotila ’10.

The UC will give $5,000 to DAPA to continue the program this semester.

—Staff writer Melody Y. Hu can be reached at melodyhu@fas.harvard.edu.

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