UC Approves Bylaws Change in Preparation for Potential President- and VP-Elect Vacancies

Council Holds Focus Group Discussion About Smith Campus Center

Just hours before the Undergraduate Council Vice President-Elect told The Crimson that he no longer plans to step down, the UC met to approve a change to the bylaws designed to prepare for potential vacancies in the President and Vice President-Elect positions.

The new provision came after winning UC ticket Sam B. Clark ’15 and Gus A. Mayopoulos ’15 announced plans to resign come the UC’s Dec. 8 presidential inauguration. On Monday night, Mayopoulos said he had changed his mind about resigning, a move that will make him the UC President provided Clark steps down, according to UC rules.

The bylaws previously allowed for an internal UC election to fill the President and Vice President roles if those spots were vacated following the inauguration, but did not specify what would happen if elected candidates resigned any earlier. The new rule, approved Monday night by a 31-4-0 vote, provides for an internal election by the UC if either the President or Vice President-Elect resign prior to the inauguration.

Despite the change in the Council’s bylaws, current UC president Tara Raghuveer ’14 said that as of Monday night’s meeting, the “UC is operating under the assumption that it has a President and Vice President-elect.”

While some UC representatives voiced concerns that possible internal elections for the top Council positions might generate backlash among students, no members presents voted against the proposed measure.

“I am not ever in favor of making policy based on anticipated backlash. We know the UC serves a function. If we have to sacrifice how the UC looks for a little while, I’m fine with that,” Raghuveer said.

C.C. Gong ’15 and Sietse K. Goffard ’15who finished second in this year’s UC election, third place candidate Chika-Dike O. Nwokike ’15, and Oak Yard representative Giora A. Ashkenazi ’17 abstained from voting.

Prior to voting on the bylaws changes, members shared their thoughts about the new Richard A. & Susan F. Smith Campus Center in a focus group led by representatives from the administrative campus center team and London-based architectural firm Hopkins Architects.

“It’s fascinating for me to be here tonight and hear what the UC had to think and could invent in the space of one evening,” said Michael Taylor, a senior partner at Hopkins Architects.

Officially announced earlier in November, the Smith Center will be located on the first three floors of what is currently the Holyoke Center and is expected to begin construction in 2016.

Dean of Student Life Stephen Lassonde said that this meeting was one of many focus groups planned with undergraduate and graduate students for the coming months. The feedback collected in these meetings will inform the design process, he said.

“The idea is to figure out what we really need on this campus that isn’t already available,” Lassonde said. “We want to emerge from this process with a consensus about what should go in that space.”

The facilitators broke up audience membersmostly current UC membersinto four groups to discuss the pros and cons of the of the building, previously known as the Holyoke Center, and brainstorm potential ways to fill the new student space.

“Right now I feel that there’s not a space at Harvard that feels unconditionally welcoming to everyone,” said Shawheen J. Rezaei ’17. “I would like the student center to be welcoming and less intimidating.”

Some of the ideas for the campus center proposed by attendees included a roof garden, a nap room, a 24-hour dining area, and even a ball pit. At the end of the meeting, each attendee voted for the five ideas he or she thought were most important.

—Staff writer Christine Y. Cahill can be reached at christine.cahill@thecrimson.com. Follow her on Twitter @cycahill16.

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