University President Drew G. Faust, Dean of the College Evelynn M. Hammonds, and Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Michael D. Smith will all visit this Sunday’s meeting of the Undergraduate Council to talk about two hot-button issues and answer questions from the student body.
The visit from these three University bigwigs, who have visited student government meetings in the past but never at the same time, is a more modest version of a program called “Forum for Change” promised by UC President Senan Ebrahim ’12 and Vice President Bonnie Cao ’12 during last fall’s electoral campaign.
“The three main executives who make decisions pertinent to students have graciously agreed to come,” Ebrahim said about the meeting, which is open to the entire student body. “It’s really about getting everyone in the right place at the right time so that when there’s a question that a student has, it can be addressed.”
On Sunday night, the discussion will focus on two topics: a student center and secondary fields. For the last portion of the two-hour meeting, the floor will open for a 20-minute period in which Ebrahim said “anything is fair game.”
Ebrahim recalled an earlier statement in which Faust expressed interest in constructing a new student center, and he said he hopes she will hear enthusiasm for that idea from students at the meeting.
“President Faust building a student center would be the best legacy any president has had among undergraduates since President Lowell built the Houses in the ’30s,” Ebrahim said. “For under 10 million dollars, you can build a dream student center and you’ll be the most awesome president ever.”
In a recent interview, Ebrahim called the Forum for Change, his “number one priority” for his term as UC president. Per his initial vision, students from all schools of the University would be invited to a session twice each semester where Harvard’s top administrators—a group of about 30 people—would all be in the room to field questions and hear grievances.
According to Ebrahim, administrators resisted that plan but agreed after many discussions to attend Sunday’s one-time meeting. Ebrahim said he still has hopes to establish an ongoing apparatus for student-administrator dialogue after this first event. That incarnation may mean a more private discussion or a written channel rather than a physical meeting.
“My goal is to have a substantive space for student engagement,” Ebrahim said.
On Sunday, Ebrahim hopes to see about 100 students attend the meeting, which will be held in Sever Hall 113 at 8 p.m.
“It would be a shame to bring all these senior administrators together and have nobody show up,” he said.
For now, deans and student coordinators say they are looking forward to the event. “Both Deans Hammonds and Smith are pleased to have been invited and to attend this regular meeting of the UC,” FAS spokesperson Jeff Neal said in an emailed statement.
—Stephanie B. Garlock contributed to the reporting of this article.
—Staff writer Julie M. Zauzmer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:
CORRECTION: October 21, 2011
Due to an editing error, an earlier version of this article misreported the start time of Sunday's Undergraduate Council meeting. It will begin at 8 p.m.