In its first meeting of the year, the Undergraduate Council voted unanimously Sunday to pass a new annual fiscal budget, which increased the amount of money allocated to the House Committees and the new Freshman Class Committee.
While comparably less funds will be allocated toward grants for student groups, House committees will be receiving $2000 more than they did last year. Achieving this increase was one of the Council’s biggest priorities, according to UC Treasurer Pratyusha Yalamanchi ’13.
A reallocation of funds was also necessary to support the Freshman Class Committee, a new organization that was established to address concerns about the lack of social spaces available for freshmen.
“Freshmen have always had fewer social options, but this is just accepted as the status quo,” UC President Senan Ebrahim ’12 said. “We are hoping to change that through institutional changes, not just by throwing money at the problem.”
The new committee, which begins its work this semester, consists of six members from the UC, two members from the First Year Social Committee, and four other students who were chosen from the freshmen class through an application process. The committee will meet every other week to hear proposals from other freshmen that seek to address the lack of social space.
“We have a First Year Social Committee, but they don’t have a lot of room for democratic responsiveness,” Ebrahim said. “This group will hold more flexibility, allowing them to plan in a more organic way.”
Although the committee is running as a pilot program this year, Ebrahim expressed hopes that it would eventually be written into the Council’s constitution.
C.C. Gong ’15, Oak Yard representative and a member of the FCC, shared these hopes. “I’m excited to be on this committee during its first year because it is an opportunity to set a precedent,” she said. “I really hope this is here to stay.”
Although the committee has not held its first meeting, Gong said that they have already started planning events, including a campus-wide, spotlight dance that will be held Saturday in the Northwest Labs.
“But the committee is not just about planning events,” said Gong, who is also comping the photo board of The Crimson. “It is also about improving social infrastructure and making renovations.”
In order to accomplish this, the funds allocated towards the FCC have been divided equally into two subgroups: Freshman Dean’s Office Capital Investment and Freshman Life Funds. Half the funds are aimed at building institutions and infrastructure to support freshmen social life, while the other half may be used for events initiated by the FCC.
According to Ebrahim, collaboration with the FDO is crucial.
“The FDO has been working with this problem of social space for a long time so they can provide the committee with valuable insight about logistics, regulations, accessibility issues, and other concerns,” he said. “In other words, the committee will say what the students desire, and the FDO will say what is possible.”
—Staff writer Rachael Apfel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org