In a move which almost certainly promises a confrontation with College officials, the Undergraduate Council last night decided to seek to direct "as much as possible" from its $58,000 budget to outside accounts where the money can earn interest.
The council charged its treasurer with the responsibility of meeting with financial officials and other deans this week to discuss how the government can transfer a portion of its money.
The council's funds currently sit in University accounts where interest defrays accounting and other costs.
But Harvard officials have previously said they would not allow such a switch and Dean of Students Archie C. Epps III last night said. "I have to be frank and say that it won't happen as I've said all along."
The vote of approval by 53 of the 83 members present indicated strong support for the transfer.
The plan was proposed by council member J. French Wall '83, who argued, "I think we'd better serve students by making money off their money, and by appealing to our constitution" which states that the council has "final control" of its funds.
The new Undergraduate Council approved by students and the Faculty last spring is the first funded student government in Harvard's history. More than 80 percent of undergraduates paid the council's voluntary $10 term-bill fee.
Epps said the prime reason why the money must remain in internal circles is to make sure it remains accountable to students. "Since the University collects the funds, it is ultimately responsible for overseeing their disbursement."
Council members decided to attempt to transfer the money because of the potential earnings, which Council Treasurer Peter N. Smith '83 estimated could be $2000 a year and the perceived symbolic importance of managing money independently.
But some representatives cautioned that the University could demand a costly audit of the separately kept books which might make the financial transfer financial unwise.
It remains unclear how Harvard would attempt to quash the council's effort. But Epps said that the University could veto any withdrawal of government funds, since all council transactions currently go through Harvard.
With a mandate to test the waters and report to the council next Sunday Smith said last night he planned to learn this week how much control the student government could wield "I really want to know who in charge here because they haven I told us, he said.
Epps said the issue would be discussed at next Monday's meeting of the student Faculty on the Committee on College Life, but added. "It's got to be decided in the end by the administration."