Chaotic Election Behind Them, New UC Leaders Outline First Initiatives

Undergraduate Council President Gus A. Mayopoulos ’15 and Vice President Sietse K. Goffard ’15 detailed three new initiatives that they plan to implement as their term gets underway in an email to undergraduates Friday, their first official communication since unexpectedly winning control of the body in December.

Heavily laced with humor, the email outlined goals to introduce a health program for freshmen, make the UC website more user-friendly, and better bolster communication between the body and students.

“[O]ur resolution for this year is to make the UC a resource for what YOU want to get done at Harvard, by letting you know what we can do, and by listening to what exactly it is that you want us to do,” the president and vice president wrote.

In separate interviews with The Crimson last weekend, Mayopoulos and Goffard added more details to those plans and others the pair plan to put in place as their nascent term progresses.

The Freshmen Health Project, a project in the works before the election, is designed to help first-year students deal with the difficulties posed by College life on student health. The UC hopes to educate first-year students about nutrition, stress management, and physical exercise by providing incentives through contests and games.

“The whole goal of the health project is to combine short-term education with long-term goals,” Mayopoulos said.

The other initiatives laid out by Mayopoulos and Goffard aim to make the UC more accessible to students, starting with its website.

Although the current version of the site was launched less than a year ago, Mayopoulos said that it is difficult to navigate and confusing to students looking for relevant information. He said that the UC is currently working to redesign the site again to make it easier for student groups to learn how to apply for and receive funding. The body hopes to have the new site launched by the beginning of the spring term.

The UC is also seeking to implement a direct deposit program for those receiving UC grants, so that they will no longer have to pick up reimbursement checks. Goffard said that he expects the UC should be able to institute this change during the spring semester.

The UC will also be testing new ways to increase communication with students outside the digital realm. The email alluded to a Operation Ghost Protocol, which Mayopoulos said seeks to foster discussion among students and representatives with a two-prong approach.

“The whole operation is about requiring the UC representatives to be in the house or dining hall they were elected by and be there with information,” Mayopoulos said of the initiative’s first part, explaining that there students will be able to voice opinions to their representatives and discuss ideas.

The second part of the protocol is designed to make the UC more transparent. Goffard said that the body plans to showcase the campaign promises of individual UC representatives on the website so students can evaluate the effectiveness of their leaders. The council will also put up posters to inform students of the time and subject matter of UC meetings.

In addition, Goffard said that he and Mayopoulos plan to attend at least three student group meetings every week so that the UC can better gauge the student needs and wants.

The amusingly named initiatives, parenthetical jokes, and humorous images interlaced throughout the email echoed the comical tone of the campaign of Mayopoulos and Sam B. Clark ’15, who together ran as a joke ticket and beat out two serious pairs of competitors. After they initially revealed plans to resign, Mayopoulos announced he would stay on as UC President, opening up a chance for Goffard.

As for the relationship between the two leaders, Goffard, who originally ran alongside former presidential candidate C.C. Gong '15, said that he will still pursue the initiatives outlined with his former running mate, but also looks forward to collaborating with Mayopoulos.

“Working with Gus will be really helpful because he brings a lot of new energy,” Goffard said of the new president, adding, “This is a major opportunity for us all to improve our student government.”

—Staff writer Noah J. Delwiche can be reached at ndelwiche@college.harvard.edu.

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