UPDATED: April 15, 2014, at 1:44 a.m.
Responding to concerns raised by Quincy residents, the Undergraduate Council voted Monday to urge College administrators to cover summer storage costs for undergraduates whose Houses have undergone renovation.
Quincy House masters first informed residents that on-campus storage space would no longer be available after renovations on the House commenced three years ago.
Associate Dean of Student Life William Cooper '94 has said that the efforts of the House renewal project to increase the amount of common space in each House took priority over storage. Quincy’s recently renovated Stone Hall, for example, once housed summer storage in its basement. Today, however, it features more common space that has replaced the storage facilities.
For the two summers while construction was underway, Harvard fully funded off-campus storage options for students living more than 150 miles away from campus. But since construction ended, the College has ceased to pay for off-campus storage for Quincy residents and has instead offered residents a slightly discounted rate for storage through the company Collegeboxes.
Quincy resident Kevin Q. Hilgartner '16 spoke at the UC meeting Monday, conveying frustration with how the Office of Student Life and other House administrators have responded to the growing student concerns about storage.
According to Hilgartner, off-campus storage could cost Quincy residents more than $150 each. Residents of other Houses, on the other hand, will not have to pay for storage until construction concludes on their dormitories.
The shift in policies, Hilgartner said, revealed “a pattern of administrative disregard for undergraduates.”
After the meeting, UC President Gus A. Mayopoulos '15 said that failing to pay for summer storage goes against the values embraced by the University, including a commitment to ease the financial burden on students.
“Part of what makes Harvard so great is that it has an incredible diversity of students and socioeconomic [diversity] is part of that…. It’s not fair to bring students and pay for everything, and then throw additional costs at them whenever the administration feels like it,” Mayopoulos said.
According to UC Vice President Sietse K. Goffard '15 and Mayopoulos, students who need storage space must individually petition the Financial Aid Office to further subsidize storage costs.
Goffard said that storage officials told him and Mayopoulos that the budget for Quincy House renewal allocated about $30,000 a year for off-campus storage.
Given that University officials raised concerns about increasing the Undergraduate Council fee, Mayopoulos said he failed to understand how the College could now ask some students to pay for storage.
“I literally don't see how you could say those two things and take yourself seriously,” Mayopoulos said.
UC leaders also announced at the meeting that they will be holding a forum this Wednesday with University President Drew G. Faust, in which undergraduates will be able to ask her questions.
In addition, the Council launched its Freshman Health Project week, an initiative Mayopoulos alluded to in his first presidential address to students. FHP Director Ingrid Y. Li '17, said that the project is designed to teach freshmen healthy practices and stress management techniques. Going forward, Li said the UC will likely host a health week every fall in collaboration with other advocacy groups.
—Staff writer Noah J. Delwiche can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @ndelwiche.