Last year, the Crimson did not endorse a ticket for Undergraduate Council President and Vice President. Frustrated by the nearly identical tickets, none of which advocated for real ways in which the UC could represent students’ concerns to a reluctant administration, we advocated instead for students to channel their energy into organizing for change outside of student government.
One student who did that was Nicole E. Granath ’15. As the co-coordinator of the Responsible Investment at Harvard Coalition, she has organized students, faculty, and alumni in support of socially responsible investment to bring their proposals to the administration. However, this year she is running to be Vice President of the UC—on a ticket that seems prepared to address our concerns about the function of the council. While Michael C. George ’14 and his running mate Granath may not be precisely the “revolutionary” ticket they present themselves to be, we would like to express our support for their candidacy.
Most students’ interactions with the UC come in the form of student life activities and student group funding through grants. George’s experience as chair of the Student Life Committee and secretary of the UC suggest that he will be well positioned to keep this function of the UC running as well, if not better, than it has in the past. In addition, George and Granath’s platform includes many commonsense and well thought out propositions for improving student life on campus, the bread and butter changes that the UC is well-positioned to carry out, ranging from partnering with the Democracy Center to improving room reservation systems to making Harvard more bike-friendly. However, this ticket’s true draw is its commitment to really reforming the way the UC functions and, quite literally, making constitutional change for our student government.
In her work on the Responsible Investment campaign, Granath has organized from outside of the University governance structure, meeting with top administrators to advocate for real, tangible positive changes to the University. Her decision to run for the UC suggests a commitment to student advocacy, an important quality for a UC leader. We are pleased that this ticket at least has taken our critique of the UC’s previous ineffectiveness to heart and are actively working to make the UC better able to represent student concerns to the administration.
This year’s UC election is novel for another reason—the ballot features three referenda on important University-wide campaigns. We encourage students to vote yes to express their approval of a social choice fund, which would allow donors to specify the option of donating their money to be invested in a socially responsible manner according to environmental, social, and governance criteria. We also advocate that students vote for the second referendum, which seeks to change Harvard’s sexual assault policies and practices in such important areas as adding a policy of affirmative consent, clearly describing “mental incapacitation,” and transparency. On the other hand, we are less excited about the first ballot referendum, asking for students to support divestment from fossil fuels; we don’t think this demand is practical or useful at this time, and would urge students to vote against it. It is exciting to see the many ways in which Harvard students can participate in democratic decision-making about University issues, and we’re glad the UC is taking the lead on conveying undergraduate opinion on these important issues to the Harvard administration.