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The Faculty and student advisory committee of the Ann Radcliffe Trust met for the first time yesterday afternoon and discussed the role the Trust will play on campus and possible projects it could undertake.
The composition of the Trust committee--which includes 17 undergraduates and 10 members of the Faculty and administration--represents a sharp departure from the Radcliffe Union of Students (RUS) student-only membership which doled out grants for women's groups until this year.
The Trust meeting took place on the eve of what could be one of the Radcliffe Union of Students' (RUS) last meetings to dole out funds to student groups.
The Trust committee talked yesterday about some of the largest challenges facing the Trust--including how future members of the committee might be chosen and possibilities for a grant structure to fund student groups--but few definite conclusions were reached. Karen E. Avery '87, associate dean of Harvard College and director of the Trust, chaired the meeting.
The Trust will have nearly $20,000 annually to dole out to student groups with an interest in women's issues.
The Trust effectively assumes what had been RUS's role in distributing funds from the now defunct $5 term bill fee that was charged to all undergraduate women before Radcliffe College's merger with Harvard. Members of RUS will gather tonight in the Lyman Common Room to interview applicants for the roughly $2,000 of funds they have to appropriate this semester to student groups with an interest in women's issues.
While the Trust committee as a whole discussed how they will fund student groups, Avery is forming a sub-committee that will deal specifically with the grants process structure.
"I need to have the grants committee up and running," Avery said.
Avery asked committee members if they would like to serve on the grant sub-committee that will work out details surrounding Trust funding. The grant process sub-committee will then report back to the Trust committee.
Avery emphasized the grants sub-committee reports will lead to group discussion in the larger committee.
"When we come back to the [Trust] committee, it will not be simply for a rubber stamp," she said.
Sub-committees may also be formed from the larger Trust committee to tackle issues relating to "programs, special events and women's issues, policy and outreach."
Twenty-five members of the 27-person committee were present at yesterday's meeting held on the second floor of Dudley House.
Committee members sat in a large circle and chatted as Avery solicited their opinions about items on the meeting's agenda.
Issues of eligibility--whether the Trust should fund individual applicants, what kind of events they should give money to, and the scope of programs they will consider for funding--were also discussed.
"There are so many good things to support, but you can't support all of them," Dean of the College Harry R. Lewis '68 said.
Many speakers at the meeting said they objected to the Trust funding individuals, saying they prefer to have the funds affect as many undergraduates as possible.
"We shouldn't be funding research," Avery said.
Smaller details surrounding the grants process were also discussed, such as if the Trust should establish fixed amounts for grants and if they should commit to funding a group for several years.
Avery included in a packet to committee members various grant applications from other groups on campus, including the Harvard College Student Activities Fund, the Office for the Arts, the Undergraduate Council, RUS, the Institute of Politics and the Harvard Foundation for Intercultural and Race Relations.
The Foundation offers a model for the structuring of future Trust committees, and S. Alan Counter, director of the Foundation, will serve as a member of the Trust committee.
"Students should be autonomous in deciding on grants," Counter said.
While the Trust committee addressed an ambitious agenda at yesterday's meeting, few definite decisions were made or conclusions reached.
Instead, committee members tossed out their opinions to the group at large.
Meredith B. Osborn '02, chair of the Women's Leadership Network and also a Crimson executive, said she thought the Trust should consider committing to funding groups for several years.
"Budding student organizations should be able to count on funding," she said.
Numerous opinions were shared about how future members of the Trust committee should be chosen--some advocated an open application process and others said certain student organizations should have a standing slot for representation on the committee.
Still others said they thought the two approaches could be merged to create a diverse committee.
"With an application process, you can keep in mind organizations that need to be represented," Angus R. Burgin '02 said.
But when Avery asked the group who should read the applications for the committee, few in the group had answers.
Questions were also raised about how the Trust should approach committee members who were also applying for funding for their group. Many of the students serving on the Trust committee also have close ties to women's groups on campus who will depend on the Trust for money.
"People who are applying for funding cannot be involved in the deliberations," said Sarah B. Stapleton '02. "That's not fair, and that's not objective."
Though the Trust will not accept applications for grants until next fall, it has been funding events on campus like the recent production of the Vagina Monologues at Agassiz Theater, with money from the Houghton Endowment.
The Houghton Endowment is the primary source of funding for the Trust and was established in 1997 to raise the awareness of women and women's issues at Harvard. The Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study also plans to contribute money to the Trust.
The Trust committee agreed to meet again before spring break.
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