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I MAY be one of the only Harvard students to actually attend all the events of the Undergraduate Council's Spring Fling weekend. And I'm darn proud of it.
I saw UC Chair Rob Rhew everywhere I went. And other Undergraduate Council members were floating around. But ordinary folks like you and me...well, let's just say we were a rare breed.
My point here is not to write a trash-the-UC, boy-do-they-suck, how-ineffective-can-an-organization-be piece. I don't believe that. If the UC had a modicum of support from students, they could get a lot done.
I FEEL kind of sorry for the UC. Members often skip meetings, the Council doesn't have much power and their events are usually not well-attended. As a result, student respect for the Council is at the low end of zero.
But is it always the UC's fault? Showing initiative and a willingness to take risks, the UC social committee put together a fairly ambitious spring weekend--and they should be commended for their efforts.
The first UC Spring Fling Weekend was supposed to be an end-of-the-year weekend of sun, fun, parties, games, bands and barbeques. Unfortunately, the weekend turned out to be a case study in UC planning gone awry.
First, God didn't cooperate. Saturday afternoon was chilly, although it started out fairly nice. By BBQ-time, it was downright cold. And Sunday was a disaster. Pouring rain and Quadfest just don't mix.
Even if the weather had cooperated though, it is doubtful that this year's Spring Fling would have been a blast for many Harvard students. People just wouldn't have shown up. Take as evidence the low turnout at the only indoor event of the weekend--the Toga Party had a maximum of 60-80 people at any one time.
How can we explain this apparent indifference? Are Harvard students a special breed, unsuited for a good time? Are we above things like Jello wrestling and gladiator obstacle courses? Have we developed our higher faculties to such a degree that we can't appreciate rock 'n' roll and dancing around in togas?
I don't think so. The University of Pennsylvania and MIT--campuses with similarly "academic" student bodies--had fun last weekend with similar activities.
A Harvard Spring Fling can be a success. It will, however, take a little more planning from the Council and a lot more enthusiasm from the student body.
THE UC did a good job of publicizing the weekend's events with posters, but UC representatives should be more active in talking up the weekend. Tell friends to go. Make friends go. Twist some arms and crack some whips if you have to. The end--high attendance--will justify the means.
The Council might also try scheduling the Fling for the weekend after classes end. Students will probably have fewer immediate commitments, and the weather might be warmer.
Most important, the Social Committee must actively seek increased student input in the selection and planning of the weekend's events. Although the Council did ask a few questions on a December survey, more student involvement closer to the event would have increased student interest.
The UC could have posted volunteer sign-up lists in dining halls and talked with House Committees about House-sponsored events. In addition, the Council should successfully implement the plan to enlist student organizations to set up carnival-type booths at Quadfest.
These efforts might not make the perfect weekend, but they would be a substantial improvement.
BUT the Council alone cannot make events like this a success. We should give the UC a chance by really participating in the weekend. The Council may not be perfect, but it's the only show in town. If students want more College-wide events--as many say they do--they should start attending those already offered.
This is, of course, just one weekend. But if most Harvard students won't even attend one weekend, why should the Council offer more? the size of the campus, diversity of the student body and nature of the house system means that social life here is very divided. With that in mind, wouldn't it be nice to come together at the end of the year and let loose for a while as one student body?
The UC shouldn't give up on the idea of a Spring Fling just because this year's didn't work out. If the social committee starts planning, we'll practice jello wrestling, watch Animal House and hone our gladiatorial skills.
And we'll get our togas ready for next year.
Let's get our gladiator shoes and our Jello wrestling suits ready for next year:
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