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Chopra Takes Oath, Helm at Council

By William B. Higgins, Crimson Staff Writer

Smiles and congratulatory words marked the first spring meeting of the Undergraduate Council last night, as new executives took office, approved a shuttle to New York and rubber-stamped grants for student groups.

However, the council postponed controversial funding decisions until next week.

The evening began with kind words from outgoing officers and opening statements from new Vice President Jessica R. Stannard-Friel ’04 and President Rohit Chopra ’04.

Departing President Sujean S. Lee ’03 administered the formal oath of office to a smiling Chopra, who was greeted with enthusiastic applause.

In his remarks, Chopra compared the arrival of spring to the council’s bright future.

Chopra said he felt “great enthusiasm, humility and honor” at his new position. “Let the games begin,” he said, banging his gavel ceremonially.

After the meeting, Chopra said that he plans to focus on building student involvement in council affairs, reaching out to students with e-mail and using online polls and surveys to register student opinion.

After a ten-minute debate over the cost of tickets, the council approved a shuttle to New York for Presidents’ Day weekend.

The shuttle will leave Johnston Gate for Penn Station at 4 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 14 and return from Penn Station at noon on Monday, Feb. 18. Round-trip tickets will cost $35.

The council also approved grants to the majority of student groups after a round of debate—including several minutes of back-and-forth over whether the Harvard Tetris Society deserved renewed funding.

In the end, the council decided to fund the club.

But for a few potentially controversial student groups—including the Harvard Orthodox Christian Fellowship—funding decisions were postponed until next week.

Chopra said that representatives’ questions about these groups required more time for discussion—and that the funding applications would need a more thorough analysis.

In addition, debate on the Prefect Program—for which no money had been earmarked —was postponed so the council could determine if the program did indeed need funding.

After Chopra’s opening address, the council quickly filled vacant positions. Deborah “Chi-Chi” Hsieh ’06 was named secretary, and Justin R. Chapa ’05 was elected treasurer.

Council committees also named their chairpersons: Joshua A. Barrow ’05, Finance Committee; Michael R. Blickstead ’05, Campus Life Committee; and Matthew W. Mahan ’05, Student Affairs Committee.

—Staff writer William B. Higgins can be reached at whiggins@fas.harvard.edu.

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