The Crimson Coalition, a newly formed group that aims to reform the Undergraduate Council by gaining a majority of seats in the next election, held its first meeting Sunday night to bring together student voices as the group shapes its agenda.
The group of approximately 30 students shared its frustrations with the structure of the current UC and proposed ideas to increase the power of student government on campus, according to students who attended the meeting.
“One of our main goals is to build greater student power on campus,” said Samuel F. Wohns ’14, one of the Crimson Coalition’s lead organizers and a Crimson Magazine editor. “We see the Crimson Coalition as a way to build student power and re-invigorate student government.”
Jimmy P. Biblarz ’14, another lead organizer, said the coalition plans on fighting for “process changes” including the establishment of a new ballot referendum process through which students could voice their concerns.
Biblarz said he hopes such reforms might get student government involved in larger, University-wide issues like keeping Lamont open on weekends, discussing Harvard’s role in the greater community, and considering Harvard’s endowment practices.
The Coalition is currently working on drafting a platform and revising its soon-to-be-released vision statement, according to Wohns and Biblarz.
“We are looking for students who are interested in tackling a range of student issues that are campus-wide and at times political and controversial,” Biblarz said.
In an email to prospective members of the coalition before the meeting, Biblarz and Wohns warned that more aggressive actions could be taken should the coalition fail to achieve adequate reform.
“We’re going all out and all in–if we don’t seriously change the way student government does business by the end of the year, we’ll advocate for the dissolution of the UC and the creation of an alternative form of student government,” read the e-mail.
Several students who attended the meeting, including Cheng Li ’14, said they felt the coalition might fight for student voices that are often ignored.
“I think the Crimson Coalition gives me a chance to re-envision what a student government could be,” said Li. “I entered the school thinking UC members are only there to help us with little things like shuttles. I never even questioned, what else could there be?”
Sarah R. Siskind '14 said she entered the meeting curious as to what a more active UC might look like, but left concerned by what she perceived to be the partisan nature of the Crimson Coalition.
“In full disclosure, I feel a little disappointed,” Siskind said. “It’s clear that they have a progressivist agenda, but they don’t want to fully concede to that. I think it would be to their benefit to run as a partisan group.”
Siskind also worried that the Crimson Coalition will find it difficult to implement their reforms.“There is no leverage to any of the policies they wanted,” she said.
Wohns rejected the idea that the coalition plans on taking political stances on specific policies.