Smith to Address Student Textbook Prices, UC Says

At a meeting with Undergraduate Council leaders Friday, University President Drew G. Faust said she will ask Faculty of Arts and Sciences Dean Michael D. Smith to address the rising costs of textbooks at the March Faculty meeting.

Undergraduate Council President Yasmin Z. Sachee ’18 discussed her meeting with Faust in a short Council general meeting Sunday afternoon. Sachee and UC Vice President Cameron K. Khansarinia ’18 attended the meeting with Faust.

Sachee said she was pleased that Faust said she would ask Smith to address high textbook prices. During Sachee and Khansarinia’s November campaign for the Council’s highest posts, the two ran on a platform that sought to address textbook affordability.

According to Sachee, Smith will discuss textbook prices at a Faculty meeting in March.

“We believe this is really, really cool because a lot of University professors from all different departments come to this meeting,” she said. “If it’s coming from a rather high place, it’ll have some meaning there.”

Sachee noted that the Education Committee will continue to work on ways to lower textbook costs in the meantime.

The pair also talked to Faust about President Donald Trump’s recent executive order, which placed a temporary ban on immigration from seven majority Muslim countries, Sachee said. Harvard, along with other Massachusetts universities, signed an amicus brief challenging the order, and Faust criticized Trump’s actions in an email to affiliates Jan. 29.

“She’s thinking long term about the future, about what this means for students are impacted,” Sachee said. “We did bring up with her what will happen for students who perhaps might not be able to go home over the summer and brought up funding and things like that.”

Sachee and Khansarinia also talked to Faust about single-gender organizations and the new committee tasked with revisiting the sanctions. The committee—which will be comprised of students, faculty, and staff—has yet to determine its members.

“It was a really, really productive meeting. We met with her for 45 minutes. We’re hoping to also see her again at the end of the semester,” Sachee said.

Eight newly-elected Undergraduate Council members were also introduced on Sunday after the Council’s midterm elections concluded on Friday. The election saw low turnout throughout the Houses, and Sachee previously said she hopes to increase student participation in elections.

“I just want to sort of thank you guys very, very much for running in these elections,” Sachee told them. “Normally midterm elections are not as publicized and so we often don't fill all of our seats. I really, really just want to thank you guys for running.”

Later in the meeting, Sachee announced plans for a Council-wide effort to spread awareness about the ‘Grant for an Open Harvard College,' a grant that still has approximately twenty thousand dollars left in the budget. At the meeting, Sachee outlined a plan for dining hall outreach to publicize the grant.

“Students just don't know about it and it's money that is for them to throw events, to do projects, to make initiatives. So we need to tell them that we have this money,” Sachee said.

The grant was introduced under former UC President Shaiba Rather ’17 and UC Vice President Daniel V. Banks ’17, and funds College initiatives under five compelling interests: financial accessibility, “race, culture, and faith relations,” social spaces, sexual assault and harassment prevention, and mental health.

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

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