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U.C. Candidate Statements



The following candidates are all running for president of the Undergraduate Council. The rest of the presidential candidates, as well as the vice presidential candidates, will be presented tomorrow in this space. The pieces running today are those we received earliest.

John J. Appelbaum '97

I am running for president of the Undergraduate Council for one reason: I want the council to be a true student government. The council should stick to the things it can do best for the students: providing student services and representing student concerns. Unfortunately, the opposite is happening: the Undergraduate Council is turning, more and more, into a weird debating club, where members argue about politics, from changing the English language to reforming the United States military. Council members were too busy debating Harvard ROTC policy to provide airport shuttle buses for students leaving for spring break.

The council dreams grandiose dreams, while basic student needs--like shuttle buses, a better meal plan, longer library hours, security and better social events-fall by the wayside.

I ask for your support because I want to return student government to the students.

If I am elected to the Presidency, there will be a lot less noise on the council. And there will be a lot more straight talk, plain dealing, and hard work.

For four semesters, I worked to serve the students who elected me to the Undergraduate Council. I hope I have done some good, without making a big deal out of it. But there comes a time when one can no longer merely hope. There comes a time when we have to stand up for what's right, to demand hard work and honest service, to put an end to political games and empty rhetoric.

I think that time has come. That is why I am running for council president. Please help me put the Undergraduate Council back on track.

Alissa S. Brotman '97

Harvard seeks a better sense of community among students and within the University. The role of president of the Undergraduate Council requires serving the students with leadership toward that improved sense of community.

The ideas that I advance are concrete ideas which can immediately improve the quality of life of students. I endorse Crimson Cash, more hang-out areas, improved shuttle services, institution of the A/B grade, more grant money. However, my basic underlying philosophy is to promote the idea of community and a great sense of equality among students. While the walls of our dining halls are currently graced with portraits of outstanding scholars and former presidents of the University, these portraits do not reflect our current diversity. The addition of portraits of historically honored females of Radcliffe to our dining halls is an idea which is over due.

Some traditions at Harvard are binding us to a past which is anachronistic. While final clubs cling to their sense of identity, their resistance to progress makes a statement which most of us do not care to debate. We do not like to acknowledge that women do not have the same freedom or status at Harvard as men. Various organizations are denied the enrichment that undoubtedly would be enjoyed with abandonment of tradition.

I will spend a year promoting the concept of an enhanced sense of community. I will begin by calling for a forum attended by the heads of every student group on campus to discuss this idea and bring about greater interaction of students and student groups.

Student voices and opinions should be considered seriously. I have an ear for those voices and the will to make them heard throughout our community.

Rudd W. Coffey '97

Two years ago, the council hit rock bottom, yet many problems have persisted. The divisive atmosphere still exists, internal morale is lower, communication with students is still poor, and a small fraction of members still do most of the work. This year, we are no better at enacting legislation, demonstrating the need for the president to be a facilitator, not a pied piper. Other candidates are selling an agenda; I am selling leadership. I have great ideas too, but there is more to being president than ideas. Instead of forcing through my agenda, I want to include and empower all members; only then can the council fulfill its potential to improve students' lives.

The council should refocus on issues of student advocacy, support of student groups, and community building that affect students every day. We must aggressively advocate student stances on the Core, Loker Commons and house advising. We must improve our support of student groups by decreasing the processing time of grant applications. Most importantly, the council must vigorously work to unify undergraduates through campus-wide events and services. The council is the only group that can bring the entire campus together and therefore has a unique responsibility to build our sense of an undergraduate community.

I'm not the smoothest talker or the best dressed, but I have been one of the hardest working and most enthusiastic members of the council and that is the kind of president that I will be.

Check out my web page! http://www.fas/~coffey

Benjamin R. Kaplan '99

It's all about ideas. Throughout this year, I have evaluated every aspect of the Undergraduate Council as an analyst, student leader and writer for The Crimson. I kept a clipping file of council articles and continually updated an ideas list of needed reforms. And consequently, a plethora of ideas came my way...


Things go right when you bring together top leaders and let them do their stuff. That's Harvard's philosophy in admissions, and this Congress--bringing together leaders from Harvard's student organizations--is the first step towards building more unity and communication among the diverse individuals that comprise our campus.


Office hours or an obscure web site that a student has to go fishing for just won't help get more input. Instead, the council should have each member contact an assigned group of students via e-mail. This way, it only takes the simple press of the "Reply" button to register concerns, and the same "R" button for the council member to do some research and respond.


Harvard has some of the best resources in the world. Does the council or even the administration really use these resources effectively? Definitely not. Case in point: The randomization of the houses. Although practically any first-year statistics student could have shown that the administration's statistical approach would result in gender imbalances, no one even bothered to consult the Statistics Department. Do the cost-benefit analysis. Use the experts.

Michael R. Petitpas '95-'97

The Undergraduate Council needs more credibility with the student body, and this can only be accomplished by taking a central role in the lives of students. The council is the undergraduate student government at the most powerful educational institution in the world. This gives the council a great deal of responsibility to have a voice in issues concerning education and the University-such as ethnic studies and Core reform. The council should be a forum for ideas where issues and solutions are discussed in a collegial way. An experienced leader with an outside perspective is needed to lead a credible, effective council.

I am well qualified to be president. I have been at Harvard for a number of years, originally entering with the Class of '95. I will be a ninth-semester student taking only one course next term, so I will be able to spend most of my time carrying out my duties as president. I have experience running a large student organization, having been general manager of WHRB. Yet, I have not been a member of the council, so I will bring a fresh approach to the job.

As president, I look forward to working closely with student groups and encouraging their cooperation. I will promote services which improve students' lives, and will work to have the council truly represent the student body by giving a greater voice to students. I will get the job done because I don't have to worry about re-election or partisanship.

Edward B. Smith III '97

I want to implement a new and entirely different vision of the form and function of our student government. I am multifaceted and will not get so caught up in school politics that I will lose sight of making the College a more livable place.

With common sense and the ability to think clearly, the council needs me to sustain its reputation. The ball is in our court and the council has not been playing its best game. The result of recent irresponsibility is inaction.

My web page is Here is my plan for change:

(1) I want the council to centralize the multitudes of information available to students and supplement it where it is insufficient, serving as a clearinghouse.

(2) I want a more fun school. I will organize seasonal weekends that everyone can look forward to.

(3) I want to reorganize the council's legislative structure to bring only the most-considered and action-ready resolutions before the full council.

I am the best candidate to represent you and to bring the council forward. As council treasurer, I am a proven professional manager and have the experience to make the council work for you. We have a great opportunity to stand up for new ideas and approaches grounded in a thorough knowledge of how the council works. I am the only candidate with the knowledge of procedure combined with the vision and the willingness to seek action. The only one. I need your vote.

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