PUCC: Just Another Also-Ran

The emperor has no clothes. The Progressive Undergraduate Council Coalition (PUCC), whose highly touted agenda was to retake the Council on a platform of political action, proved its impotence in failing to get its own leadership elected as representatives.

Sixty-nine percent of candidates not affiliated with PUCC won their offices. But only 60% of those unlucky enough to be tagged as members of the failed political party known as PUCC proved victorious. Further, three of its leaders got "PUCC" ed: Jedediah S. Purdy '97 in Pforzheimer; Julie C. Suk '97 in Dunster, where five out of seven candidates were elected; and Scott Shuchart '97 in Quincy, where he was the sole candidate not to be elected.

That PUCC failed in the first step of its effort to reform the Council doesn't surprise us. We have seen many martyrs make valiant attempts to rejuvenate the glorified dance committee. It was how soon the liberal reformers crashed that is so shocking. One PUCC organizer who was elected, Tobias B. Kasper '97, even acknowledged in an interview on Sunday that PUCC largely failed to significantly increase voter turnout.

On the other hand, the coalition which was PUCC hailed a rebirth of student activism. To promote "student self-advocacy," it promised such conveniences as transportation to and publicity of demonstrations as well as excesses such as phone banks directly connected to Washington.

The other plank of its campaign also spoke to the decentralization of power. PUCC was ready to demand student input into every committee making decisions on undergraduate life. That would have been a far reach for an organization that fares well only in the gauzy realm of gala balls.


Last week's elections proved that the greater part of the student body is still apathetic about our own student council. Only 1,298 upperclass students bothered to cast ballots, even though voting tables were conveniently located in house dining halls. And the odds that any given candidate was elected to the council were 64 percent.

On a more promising note, first-year students showed record numbers in the election. More than 1,000 ballots were counted from the Class of '99, a figure attributable to the availability of Internet voting. So while the future of the council will not be salvaged by PUCC, it can look forward to renewed student interest starting with the first-years.

PUCC might have provided substance to the council--but not the substance Harvard students desire. Real reform will only occur when the council is seen as a credible and representative organization backed by a reasonable plurality of the student body.

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