Friendship TO FACE-OFF


They were responsible for fly-by lunches, Winter break shuttles, and the First-year Formal. They made headlines with debates over divestment and scandals during elections. They alternately satisfied and antagonized the student body.

This year's Undergraduate Council dealt in polarities, swinging from 30-minute meetings over fro-yo to passionate debates about gay rights in the space of two short semesters.

The council was off to a rocky start in September, as President Beth A. Stewart '00 and Vice President Samuel C. Cohen '00 began the second half of their term. Elections for representatives were nullified when uc-vote, the computer program that facilitates elections, broke down for several hours.

The elections were held again a week later, but the delay had taken its toll--only 18 percent of students took the trouble to vote.

With newly elected council members settling into their seats in Sever 113, Stewart dropped the bombshell that would trouble the council for the rest of the year. Stewart and Council Treasurer John A. Burton '01 announced that an account containing $40,000 of forgotten council money had been discovered over the summer.


The money, a surplus that added up to more than a third of the council's budget, consisted of the annual $20 term bill fees collected from students. The budget surplus was eventually allocated in the spring, with $25,000 pledged toward the construction of a student center and the remainder used to set up a fund for student group grants and to purchase a new sound system.

Throughout their term, Stewart and Cohen stayed true to their campaign promise to focus on student services, concentrating on issues like fly-by lunches, universal keycard access and cable in the dorms. But Stewart's sometimes militantly narrow focus cost her some supporters.

In response to a Crimson editorial calling for the council to consider a broader scope of issues, Stewart sent a letter published on September 30.

"You don't want the truth because deep down in places you don't talk about at Crimson editorial meetings, you want me at that podium, you need me at that podium," she wrote. "I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a staff that rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very services I provide, and then questions the fact that I provide them."

But when Stewart ceded her gavel, even she admitted that perhaps the council had taken too narrow a view during her term. She endorsed Seton and Redmond for office, complimenting their larger view of what "student services" include.

Only one bill presented this fall even hinted at real politics--the Hate Crimes Condemnation and Prevention Act, written in reaction to the brutal killing of Matthew Shepard. The legislation, which passed almost unanimously, was a harbinger of things to come.

Finding New Leadership

Presidential elections in December were marked not by computer problems, but scandal--a member of the Election Commission, a group that oversees council elections, resigned.

Margaret L. White '99 left her position on the commission after an e-mail she sent to the Harvard-Radcliffe Christian Fellowship was made public. The message asked students to keep presidential and vice-presidential hopefuls T. Christopher King '01 and Fentrice D. Driskell '01 in their prayers.

King and Driskell renounced any connection to religious groups beyond their personal membership. Their platform calling for increased "community," they said, did not necessarily call for an increased presence of religion on campus. The incident attracted attention from national media to Harvard's highly competitive student body presidential race.

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