UC Hosts Phone Bank Against GOP Bill's Proposed Endowment Tax

Yaz and Cam
Undergraduate Council President Yasmin Z. Sachee '18 and Vice President Cameron K. Khansarinia '18 urged undergraduates to attend a phone banking session aimed to stop a provision that proposes a tax on university endowments.

The Undergraduate Council held phone banking sessions on Monday and Tuesday to advocate against a provision of the proposed Congressional tax bill that would cost the University millions.

Undergraduate Council members urged students to gather in Boylston Hall to call members of Congress about the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, though the event was sparsely attended. The proposed legislation includes a tax on university endowments that would, based on its investment income this year, cost Harvard an estimated $43 million. The bill is currently being debated in the Senate.

The proposed tax would be levied on some private universities and has the potential to decrease financial aid and research funding, according to UC President Yasmin Z. Sachee ’18.

“We are doing this to protect our community and protect the people in our community,” she said. “We are going to call our senators and ask them to remove this portion of the bill.”

Over the past year, University President Drew G. Faust has lobbied members of Congress to keep an endowment tax out of the bill. At a Faculty meeting last week, Faust said she has contacted alumni and donors who might be able to influence the bill.

Sachee said that Faust notified UC leadership of the issue, sparking their decision to hold the phone banking sessions. As a nonpartisan organization, the UC has not taken an official stance on the rest of the legislation, she added.

“This is not an endorsement or anyone saying that we are against the whole bill,” she said. “This is just against this part.”

Winthrop House Representative Henry S. Atkins ’20 said he supports political action from the UC only on issues that affect the student body.

“It is important to distinguish between trying to represent the student body and trying to make sure we are protecting our fellow students,” he said. “ On issues of political engagement that protect our students, I think it is totally valid for the Undergraduate Council to speak out about those issues.”

Veronica Santana ’21 said she was unaware of the tax bill’s implications for Harvard until a freshman UC representative invited her to the phone bank.

“I think it is important that our college campus eases you into being a good citizen and doing your part and calling your senator and representative about things that you are passionate about,” she said.

The UC is currently holding elections to choose its next president and vice president. Voting closes Thursday at noon.

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