New Clubs Will Have One Year Trial Period

Year in Review - Extra: Activity Fair
Students sign up for clubs at the annual activity fair.
The College will not fully recognize new student groups for at least one year after their founding, and the new groups will have to meet with administrators relevant to the club’s focus during the application process, according to a new plan from the Office of Student Life and the Undergraduate Council.

Assistant Dean of Student Life Alexander R. Miller detailed the new plan at the Undergraduate Council’s Rules Committee meeting Thursday night.

“If the group is approved, then they are then expected to remain in some kind of intermediate status for a year, so they are asked to build signature programs, build a membership, have some presence on campus,” Miller said.

Under the new plan, the campus “experts" will provide recommendations on whether to approve new student groups to the OSL, which will then deliver the recommendations to the UC.

After the first year trial period, UC representatives will vote to determine if student groups are accepted for full recognition, need more time for growth, or are rejected, Miller said. While the OSL currently has rubrics for judging student groups, the Rules Committee is considering revamping those rubrics to adapt to the new system.

The College’s Office of Student Life announced earlier this semester that it would not be accepting applications for new clubs, citing a proliferation of undergraduate student groups at Harvard. In March, the UC voted to amend its constitution and bylaws to take part in a new club approval process.

The UC Rules Committee is currently tasked with developing a plan for the UC’s club oversight process. Miller said at Thursday’s meeting that the committee must submit such a proposal in one week.

“I think it’s largely up to us to decide what we want to tack on to what the OSL’s already been doing, what if anything we would want to add to this rubric, which I think looking through it right now is pretty reasonable,” Rules Committee Chair Evan M. Bonsall ’19 said.

Nicholas P. Whittaker ’19 said he hopes the UC can work with the OSL to reduce redundant student groups at the College. Harvard is currently home to 442 recognized student organizations.

“We really need to be more cognizant of the density of organizations and how we’re contributing to that and I think that’s something that we, as students, are especially equipped to do,” he said.

Bonsall said he agreed, and that too many student groups will also be too expensive for the UC.

“Although the ambition of Harvard students may be unlimited, our money is not. So I think that you’re exactly right,” he said.

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

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