UPDATED: Feb. 21, 2014, at 1:00 a.m.
In the wake of their meeting with University President Drew G. Faust Thursday, Undergraduate Council President Gus A. Mayopoulos '15 and Vice President Sietse K. Goffard '15 said that Faust considered their request for the University to directly provide additional funding to the Council unrealistic and advised them to speak to other deans about funding alternatives.
Mayopoulos and Goffard, who hosted a rally in the Yard before their meeting with Faust, said that they discussed the additional funding’s importance with the president and how it might be acquired, either through a term bill increase or directly from the University. Ultimately, however, they said Faust said that the issue was not within her purview, but rather those of the leaders of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences and the College.
Although Goffard described the meeting as “constructive and realistic,” Mayopoulos spoke more candidly about Faust’s stance.
“We did not get the $250,000. However, we did receive guidance,” he said. “It seems like our quest to improve the quality of co-curricular activities at Harvard will lead us to [FAS] Dean [Michael D.] Smith and [Interim College] Dean [Donald H.] Pfister.”
Even though Mayopoulos and Goffard said they understood the meeting with Faust would not be the only step in realizing their goals, Mayopoulos said that “it would have been extremely beneficial to have President Faust say that she supported our mission to secure more funding for student extracurriculars.”
Mayopoulos also said that he disagreed with Faust’s assessment of their request.
“[Faust] told us that she didn't necessarily think that it was realistic that the UC should expect this money to fall out of the sky,” Mayopoulos said. “[But] I think we were being extremely realistic…. What we are asking for amounts to a rounding error.”
He also argued that the University should prioritize supporting the lives of students currently attending Harvard. According to Goffard, Faust spoke much about “tradeoffs” that arise when allocating money for financial aid, infrastructure, athletics, and other student activities.
Weighing the significance of each priority against the importance of the campus activities, publications, and events that the UC funds was not difficult for Mayopoulos.
“I think if administrators understood how important extracurriculars are to students at Harvard, they would be treating this topic differently,” he said.