In an effort to make the budget of the Undergraduate Council and the individual House Committees more transparent, UC representatives revised their bylaws Sunday in their last general meeting of the semester to strengthen reporting guidelines. Council members also passed legislation to formally support reintroducing American Sign Language into the college’s curriculum and announced that they had discovered $20,000 worth of undeposited checks or funds allocated to them from previous years.
In the first update to its bylaws, the UC mandated that its annual budget, passed at the beginning of the academic year, be sent to members at least 72 hours in advance and contain additional information about the percentage change of expenditures from year to year.
Quincy House representative Brett M. Biebelberg '16 said this measure will allow the UC to be more careful in changing its budget.
“It’s important that we all have a chance to review the money we are going to be spending,” he said at the meeting.
The second measure requires that House Committees follow similar disclosure methods and reveal their funding sources. Those that neglect to submit budgets by Oct. 1 of each year or relay intentionally inaccurate information will be ineligible for UC funding for at least one year.
While some Council members initially raised concerns about the proposed sanction, UC Treasurer Meghamsh Kanuparthy '16 said that without a strict deadline and penalty, “there is no point of having that punitive clause to begin with."
Even so, Kanuparthy said that the new measure is not designed to “single out” any HoCo, but is intended to ensure transparency on all fronts.
“It’s really all about making sure that everything is transparent, making sure that we know where our money is going…. We want to know how our money is being used and administrators want to know that as well,” Kanuparthy said after the meeting.
After passing both measures, the UC shifted focus to legislation presented by Committee of Deaf Awareness representatives Erica X Eisen '16, a Crimson Arts Chair, and Julia B. Hyman '15.
Although over 90 percent of students voted in favor of offering ASL courses at the college for credit, because the voter turnout was less than 50 percent, the Council did not officially adopt the stance. On Sunday, however, representatives unanimously agreed to assist the petitioners and connect them with relevant administrators.
Kanuparthy also announced at the meeting that he had discovered $20,000 in uncashed checks or reimbursements spanning seven years.
Kanuparthy said that in analyzing the Council’s budget and bank statements, he learned that previous UC administrations had failed to pick up money as part of a Harvard Student Agencies contract.
Still, Kanuparthy said that passing judgement on former Council members without knowing the circumstances surrounding their time on the Council would be “extremely premature.”
“This money isn’t about what they failed to do, but it’s about the diligence that we pay down today,” he said after the meeting.
The additional funds will be directed to the formation of a UC endowment, which the Council had announced in late March.
The UC also passed its final grants pack for the year, and allocated up to $1,500 from the Student Initiatives Committee’s budget for an upcoming Quad lawn party.
—Staff writer Noah J. Delwiche can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @ndelwiche.