UC Expresses ‘Disappointment’ with Harvard Response To Title IX Changes

Yasmin Sachee
Undergraduate Council president Yasmin Z. Sachee at the Council's weekly meeting Sunday night.
The Undergraduate Council expressed “disappointment” with Harvard’s response to the Deptartment of Education’s changing federal Title IX guidelines.

Last month, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced changes to gender equity law Title IX, saying that universities may now abandon a “preponderance of evidence” standard—or the lowest standard of proof—when judging whether an accused student is guilty of sexual assault. Harvard spokesperson Tania deLuzuriaga said last month that Harvard is “reviewing” that guidance.

“The safety and well-being of our community remains the University’s top priority,” deLuzuriaga added at the time. Title IX administrators have also previously said that they do not plan on altering Harvard's Title IX policies because of changes to federal standards.

At their general meeting Sunday, UC representatives voted overwhelmingly to pass a statement supporting Harvard’s victims of sexual assault, adding that Harvard should “go above and beyond federal minimum standards in protecting survivors’ access to this unique and transformative education.”

“We, the elected representatives of the Harvard student body, firmly believe that the safety and well-being of students are top priorities of the Harvard community, and therefore express our disappointment in the Administration’s failure to officially announce its decision regarding Secretary DeVos’s letter,” the statement reads.

The Council also passed a “Dorm-Rooms to Table” pilot program Sunday, in which students can apply to go out for meals in Harvard Square with others selected at random.

“The whole point about the dinner is it’s people you don’t know,” said UC President Yasmin Z. Sachee ’18.

The pilot program will likely start this semester with a lottery for 120 students. It utilizes the UC’s Burst Fund, which offers UC members and committees twenty “packs” of $3,000 to jumpstart initiatives that benefit the College’s student body.

Sachee said previous programs and plans to increase social life inspired “Dorm-Rooms to Table.” In previous years, the UC sponsored “community dinners” in Harvard Square where groups of students were paired together for meals.

Mather House representative Eduardo A. Gonzalez ’18 suggested a friendly amendment to limit the number of meals per student at one per semester. Afterwards, Winthrop House representative Henry S. Atkins ’20 proposed a amendment restricting Council members from using the program.

“We have a situation where we’re going to be able to fund dinners for about 120 separate students on this campus. If we only help 120 students with an initiative, then none of those should be us,” he said.

Both the amendment and the legislation itself passed.

Also, at the meeting, the Grant for an Open Harvard Campus funded $600 for Southerners Organizing Urgent Transformation Through Harvard College’s inaugural event. SOUTTH, an unrecognized student group, will bring Jackson, Mississippi first lady Ebony Lumumba to speak.

—Staff writer Andrew J. Zucker can be reached at andrew.zucker@thecrimson.com. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewJZucker.

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