On This Year Referenda

The referenda system bodes well for future student participation and engagement with the Undergraduate Council

As the new campaign season of the Undergraduate Council begins, the student body gears itself for changes—a new president, a new vice president, and perhaps an opportunity to present new legislative topics through the referendum system. With the recently-revitalized system, UC representatives have been flooding student inboxes, asking them to consider signing petitions that would allow these referenda questions to be placed on the ballot for the coming UC election. Recent legislative changes in the UC now make the governing body unable to overturn a binding referenda, turning the referendum system into a more tangible way to enact changes in the UC.

We believe that the referenda system is a great method to increase student engagement with the UC, allowing it to remain in touch with the body of students that it purportedly represents. The system provides a prominent platform to discuss important issues and creates a framework in which students can feel as though their voices are being heard. Moreover, it can gauge student opinion on substantive issues, and we are hopeful for the ideas and action that will ideally originate from these referenda topics. In particular, we commend the impetus that has been given to issues such as developing a multicultural center on campus as well as further upperclassman programming.

While we find merit in the referenda system, we are wary of its misuse. If students genuinely have an important issue they wish to bring to the attention of the student body, then this is an appropriate mechanism for students to take advantage of. However, we implore students to take this method seriously and not waste space on referendum ballots with frivolous requests, such as making the Harvard Turkey the College’s official mascot. This system is designed to bring important issues to the table at UC meetings—not to waste their time.

Nevertheless, the initiative of UC representatives in widely publicizing these referenda highlights a focus on action rather than mere discussion. This is a step in the right direction, and is a positive sign for change to come out of UC meetings rather than idle conversation. We look forward to seeing more examples in the near future of UC members being active participants in bringing about changes to our campus.

In this vein, we are optimistic that the administration will lend an ear to any referenda that are passed. While we understand that some referenda cannot instantaneously cause large administrative changes, we hope that administrators truly take these issues into consideration, as petition votes show that these sentiments are important to a substantial part of the student body.

This staff editorial solely represents the majority view of The Crimson Editorial Board. It is the product of discussions at regular Editorial Board meetings. In order to ensure the impartiality of our journalism, Crimson editors who choose to opine and vote at these meetings are not involved in the reporting of articles on similar topics.


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