To the Editors of The Crimson
It's hard to believe, but for the second year in a row, the Undergraduate Council scheduled a social event in direct conflict with the Valentine's Day AIDS Benefit Ball sponsored by AIDS Education and Outreach. Why would an organization which is supposedly dedicated to supporting student groups and to advocating student concerns be so thoughtless as to compete with the main fundraiser of a group espousing such a worthy cause?
Last year's conflict could perhaps be excused. After all, the AIDS Benefit Ball was not obviously an established annual affair. And the freshman formal was a much needed social event, although the formal did not need to be scheduled on Valentine's Day and could have been moved once the UC became aware of the conflict.
This year's conflict, however, was inexcusable. The UC could no longer claim ignorance of the annual nature of the AIDS Benefit Ball. "Casino Night" is not an obviously needed social event, and certainly not an that must be scheduled on Valentine's Day. The UC even commandeered Memorial Hall, the traditional site of the AEO Ball. This forced AEO to move the Ball to the Freshman Union, dooming it to certain failure. Fortunately, AEO organizers were able to move the Ball to Pound Hall, a more acceptable location.
The obvious effort by the UC to draw potential AIDS Benefit Ball-goers to its even added insult to injury. If the Casino Night were merely a gambling event, it might have drawn a different audience from the Ball. But the fact that the UC added a dance to its event show that it attempted to compete with AEO. The UC, being well-funded, was able to mount a more aggressive publicity campaign, including teasers promising enticing door prizes. This effort probably resulted in a smaller attendance at the AEO Ball and less money raised from for AIDS charities.
Of course, other events were also scheduled for Valentine's Day. But the reason the UC event is different is that one of the UC's main functions is to support student groups, through grants and other means. Common sense dictates that the UC should not compete with a student group's main fundraiser. The organization of social events should be left to the many student groups that are eager to provide them and that depend on their revenue.
We hope that in the future the UC will consider its function in the Harvard community and its responsibility to student groups when planning social events. Henry A. Roman '92 Courtney C. Coile '93