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Council, Supporting Lewis, Votes to Hike Fee

Despite popular opposition, council supports increase

By Garrett M. Graff, Crimson Staff Writer

The Undergraduate Council endorsed by a large margin last night the decision of Dean of the College Harry R. Lewis '68 to seek an increase of the term bill fee that funds the council.

Widespread applause greeted the announcement of President Fentrice D. Driskell '01 that by a vote of 34-5, the council passed a resolution sponsored by Jeffrey A. Letalien '01 that "encourages" Lewis and the Faculty to raise the fee "in accordance with inflation."

Lewis announced two weeks ago that he was proceeding with a plan to ask the Faculty to raise the fee--even though a student referendum to do so failed narrowly last year.

Every year since 1983, the council has been funded the same way: through an optional $20 term bill fee. But because of inflation, that money only buys 60 percent of what it did in 1983. Adjusted for inflation, the term bill fee would now be $33.50.

Lewis has said he hopes the new term bill fee will be $30 to 40. He will present his plan to the Committee on College Life on Thursday, and if it passes, the measure will go to a full vote of the Faculty.

Letalien argued that the council needed the term bill increase in order to remain legitimate on campus. Funding for student groups and campus events has reached crisis proportions, he said.

"We are elected to represent the students, and we need to do the best thing to improve campus life," he said.

Some members opposed the bill, saying the council should not override the will of the student body.

"We took it to the student body and they voted it down; now we're trying to go behind their backs," argued member Luke R. Long '02.

"We should support what the student body has told us," said council treasurer and presidential candidate Justin A. Barkley '02.

A series of amendments, including an attempt to suggest that the term bill be raised to $40, tied up the bill for almost an hour.

As the council descended into procedural wrangling, member Todd E. Plants '01 pleaded for the bill.

"This is the most important vote you'll ever cast," he said. "Do not let this die. If it dies, the term bill increase is dead."

Council members defeated all the amendments except for one that asked the University to contribute more money to student groups. A motion to refer the bill to the Student Affairs Committee--thus delaying the bill until after Lewis brought the increase up with the Committee on College Life--also failed.

In his closing statement, Letalien emotionally pleaded for the resolution.

"It's not an easy thing to support." Many times we do not go on record about unpopular things but sometimes we have to take a stand on what is right," he said.

All of the candidates for council president and vice president supported the resolution, except for Barkley and his running-mate Adam M. Johnson '02.

For his part, Lewis expressed optimism about the term bill increase at Thursday's meeting.

"I'm looking forward to the discussion in Committee on College Life, and learning the views of everyone who will be there," he wrote an in e-mail message.

* The first Undergraduate Council presidential debate will be held tonight at a location and time to be announced.

--Staff writer Garrett M. Graff '03 can be reached at ggraff@fas.harvard.edu.

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