Though a miscommunication regarding room reservations forced the Undergraduate Council to relocate halfway through its Sunday meeting from its regular Sever Hall meeting place to the basement of Canaday, representatives came together in the cramped freshman common room in unanimous support of a report urging the creation of a campus student center.
The report, a product of a month-long process in which the UC solicited feedback from students, House Masters, and student organizations, asks the administration to make the creation of a student center a priority in the University’s upcoming capital campaign.
The report also asks the administration to involve students in future discussions regarding the creation of a student center and solicit alumni contributions for the project.
Representatives from the UC will present the report to University President Drew G. Faust during a meeting on Tuesday.
The University has been planning the much-delayed capital campaign since the presidency of Lawrence H. Summers, and has over the past year begun a “quiet phase” in which officials seek donations before publicly announcing the campaign.
Administrators have identified House renewal and development in Allston as potential priorities for the campaign.
UC Secretary Michael C. George ’14, who lead the committee that wrote the report, said he recognized that influencing the goals of the campaign would be a challenge, but added he was “hopeful” that administrators would seriously consider the UC’s findings.
“It’s very important that Harvard recognize the desires of the students,” said George, who is also a Crimson News comper. “Without this current capital campaign, we wouldn’t be in a place where we could ask the College to generate millions of dollars. This is a very opportune time for the College and the University to address [the issue of a student center].”
Students have long called for the creation of a centralized location for students to socialize on campus. The creations of the SOCH and Queen’s Head Pub are among the College’s small fixes to a larger problem.
Student leaders have in the past tried to address the problem themselves. A 2009 UC Social Space Task Force attempted to raise funds to purchase a space in the Square, but after a summer fundraising campaign generated only $700, the campaign lost momentum.
Current UC President Senan Ebrahim ’12 said the solution to the student center problem lies in a “partnership” between students and administrators.
He said he believed administrators are currently receptive to the idea of a student center, pointing to comments made by Dean of the College Evelynn M. Hammonds, Dean of the Faculty Michael D. Smith, and Faust during an unprecedented open forum last month between students and the top administrators in which social space was a key topic of discussion.
“If you look at their response during the open meeting we did with them, it was very much one of wanting to commit, but it was still noncommittal,” Ebrahim said. “There was still no definitive, ‘We really need this on our campus and we are going to make this a fund-raising priority.’”
George said that even after presenting the report to Faust, he and other members of the UC plan to continue reaching out to students to further identify students’ vision for a campus center.
‘We want to see this [report] as the opening of the conversation about why we want a student center and what we want it to be,” George said. “This is definitely not the end of that conversation.’
—Staff writer Hana N. Rouse can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.