The Crimson staff editorial "Give the Council Some Substance" (Feb. 13, 1995) asks the Undergraduate Council to "gain some legitimacy in the eyes of [its] constituents." The council should, does, and will do its best to gain respect from the student body. However, respect is bred from familiarity.
When a student has had no contact with the Undergraduate Council, it should not be surprising that he or she feels apathy towards the council. Current President Josh Liston's platform of familiarizing the student body with the council represents a necessary and effective way of bridging the gap between the council and its constitutents.
Though bringing council members closer to their districts through such initiatives as local office hours and dorm visits is a part of creating familiarity with the council, there are two other parts that are of equal if not greater importance.
First, people become familiar with groups that provide them with useful services. The council strives to use what resources it has to create valuable events for the students. Grants, the book drive, and the recent ski trip are all ways in which students became familiar with a council that has the potential to enhance student life.
The second and the best way for students to gain respect through familiarity for their representative body is by participating in it. When a student feels strongly about an issue, he or she needs to assist the council with its efforts on the issue if Harvard's undergraduate representative body is to become the powerful advocate that the student body deserves.
The administration has no incentive to grant power to an organization that does not have substantial support from the student body it represents. When the council is able to act as the tool of a united vocal student body, the administration will owe it the power that Harvard undergraduates deserve.
The Undergraduate Council is travelling in the right direction by attempting to enlist as much student participation as possible. However, whether or not Harvard's student representative body receives the "greater authority and real power" that The Crimson discusses is ultimately up to the student body of Harvard. If you are concerned about an issue at Harvard, from Core reform to housing assignments to ROTC, call your undergraduate representative to find out how you can help the council to resolve the issue. David S. Goodman '97 The writer is the secretary of the Undergraduate Council.