UC To Offer New Loans for Fundraising

The Undergraduate Council agreed on Sunday night to offer new funds to student organizations through two initiatives—a loan program which will facilitate student group fundraising, and a renewal of last year’s pilot program of grants for large-scale social events.

Under existing guidelines, the UC does not make grants to help groups run charitable fundraisers or pay certain organizational start-up costs. The rationale for those policies, Leverett Representative Nicholas Oo ’13 explained at Sunday’s UC meeting, is that the money for UC grants comes from term bill charges to students and thus should all be directed toward programs that return benefits strictly to the student body.

The new loans program, which Oo sponsored, will allocate $10,000 from the council’s grants fund to be used for those until-now excluded types of activities, in the form of loans rather than grants—thus holding to UC policy while providing groups with more cash.

During the debate over the legislation, Oo predicted that the UC will recoup all the loans it makes under the new program, even if the student organizations that receive the loans fail to meet their fundraising goals.

“It’s very [likely] for student groups to pay us back, even if they have a loss in their event, because they want to receive grants in the future,” Oo argued, adding that the UC Finance Committee will work closely with grant recipients to supervise their event planning.

The plan passed with 29 council members in favor and one opposed.

The other significant funding-related action of the night promised to award grants to organizations planning social events open to all students in large venues, both on and off campus, during the fall semester.

This program launched on a trial basis last spring, and at Sunday’s UC meeting, council Treasurer Pratyusha Yalamanchi ’13 recounted its successful uses—including the Rush Hour and All of the Lights parties, both organized by collaborating cultural groups—before proposing that it be renewed this year.

The council also agreed to help publicize two student programs: an upcoming summit run by the organization Students Taking on Poverty, and a campaign which advocates for locally grown and organic produce in Harvard’s dining halls and more student involvement in the College’s discussions about sustainable food.

That publicity may reach a much wider audience than it would have a week ago through one particular channel—Facebook.

UC President Senan Ebrahim ’12 mentioned, to much applause, that thanks to the council’s request that students “like” its Facebook page in order to get express access to the free t-shirts it distributed before Harvard’s 375th anniversary celebration, the Council’s page jumped from 650 to 1700 fans last week.

—Staff writer Julie M. Zauzmer can be reached at jzauzmer@college.harvard.edu.

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