To the Editors of The Crimson:
As The Crimson is the primary source of information on the Undergraduate Council for the undergraduate population, your focus and magnification of only the negative aspects has done a great disservice to a highly functional and essential campus organization.
J.D. Connor's October 4 editorial piece "Beyond UC Jokes" was the most uninformed, inaccurate and insulting article on the Undergraduate Council I have ever read, and his so-called reforms would be disastrous. For example, ending house representation would only decrease the accountability of the members to their constituents at a time when greater accountability is crucial.
Futhermore, it would also ensure the success of massive and shallow publicity campaigns since name-recognition would be more important than the candidates' platforms.
Direct elections for individual committees and a "clearinghouse style body" are inefficient ideas that would decentralize the Council to the point of utter chaos. Connor's last suggestion of "following the money" reflects a deplorable lack of research.
The finance committee does not and cannot have control over the entire budget since this would cripple the function of every other committee, and the suggestion that the finance committee scurry about from house to house for approval or running a referendum on every grant is absolutely ridiculous.
While the entire article was written with an unnecessarily disparaging tone, one line was particularly insulting: "Unfortunately, the band of resume-padding, power-hungry incompetents who dominate the council are so busy protecting their jobs, they never even imagine a Harvard without a council." I presume this refers to me and my colleagues on the Executive Board, and I would therefore like to clarify a few facts.
My colleagues are competent and consistent workers who attempt to improve undergraduate life. They do not toil solely because of that extra line on their resumes, nor do they perceive grandiose visions of power. And they definitely are not trying to protect their jobs (from what? Who would want to take the position of a scapegoat?).
And yes, I also do imagine a Harvard without a council, and I see a student's nightmare. Harvard would be a university with absolutely no formal student input on administrative decisions, no financial support for most campus organizations, no concerts nor comedians and no student-run services such as the recent UC-PBH used book exchange.
The problem that the council faces is not in the infrastructure of the council; reducing its size would simply limit its potential. As noted in the October 9 editorial, the current council size does not guarantee all the qualified and diligent workers a seat, and a smaller council would simply decrease the pool of potential workers.
The problem I believe is partly due to bad press and partly due to the laziness of the constituents. It is always much easier to criticize the way things are than to offer a detailed plan for improvement. Telling your representative that you are unhappy does not help; we are not miracle workers.
You should pester your representatives about specific issues, investigate their attendance records, and even attend council meetings. In short, you should hold the representatives accountable for their inaction. Ripping the council is quite trendy, but it is not constructive, and refusing to give $16.67 to the council this year is not an indication of any desire for council improvement. Robert Rhew '92 Services Committee Chair Undergraduate Council