UC Launches ‘Grant for an Open Harvard College’

The Undergraduate Council began accepting applications for funding under its new “Grant for an Open Harvard College” on Monday, according to UC President Shaiba Rather ’17.

The grant, which is a reformed version of the Bridging and Belonging Fund created under former UC President Gus A. Mayopoulos ’15, was established by Rather and UC Vice President Daniel V. Banks ’17 earlier this month as an extension of their campaign platform to “Open Harvard.”

The new grant, funded jointly by the UC and the Office of Student Life, allocates $30,000 to students and student groups for initiatives that meet one of the four “compelling interests” that the UC voted on last week: mental health, sexual assault and harassment, race relations, and social spaces.

“Anyone on this campus can apply,” Rather said during the UC’s general meeting Sunday. “We obviously favor collaborative efforts, but whether that’s a blocking group in Mather or a collaboration between HASA and SAA, we’re really looking for innovative initiatives,” referring to the Harvard African Students Association and the Harvard South Asian Association, respectively.

UC Representatives Meet in the SOCH
Members of the Harvard Undergraduate Council hold general meetings each Sunday afternoon in the SOCH.

Undergraduates will be able to apply for funding under the grant through the UC website, according to Rather.

“We’re planning on door dropping the entire school with flyers,” Student Relations Committee chair Yasmin Z. Sachee ’18 said, describing the committee’s efforts to publicize the new grant.

In its previous form, the Bridging and Belonging Grant was “completely underutilized,” Banks said last week.

“It’s really important that everyone knows about it,” Rather said. “We really want this to be effective.”

While deliberating over this week’s Finance Committee grant pack, multiple representatives raised concerns over the proposed allocation of $877 to TEDxHarvardCollege, a student-run speaker event. Several representatives generally questioned the UC’s policy on funding ticketed events.

Under the Finance Committee’s current policy, ticketed events that receive UC funding must provide “a minimum of 10 tickets to be distributed by lottery for free to the student body.”

In fall 2014, TEDxHarvardCollege requested $3,000 from the UC’s Finance Committee and did not receive any funding.

“I remember speaking out against funding TEDx last semester,” UC representative Daniel R. Levine ’17, an inactive Crimson editor, said. Levine identified the cost of attending the event as a contributing factor in his decision.

Ultimately, the Council voted against funding TEDxHarvardCollege this week—an atypical move from a body that typically approves grant packs without amendment—with the possibility of re-visiting the funding at a later date.

The Council funded about $7,000 to other student organizations this week, an increase from the past two weeks.

At the meeting, Freshman Class Committee chair Eduardo A. Gonzales ’18 also announced the planned installation of new laundry machines in Matthews Hall in Harvard Yard.

“Something that administrators told us wasn’t feasible has been accomplished by our amazing freshmen,” Gonzalez said. “The Matthews freshman dorm will have laundry machines installed this coming summer. Now, residents of Matthews won’t have to walk across the yard to wash their stuff.”

–Staff writer Brian P. Yu can be reached at brian.yu@thecrimson.com. Follow him on Twitter @brianyu28.

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