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The Undergraduate Council overwhelmingly defeated an amendment yesterday that would have denied council funding for a walkout organized by the Harvard Initiative for Peace and Justice (HIPJ).
The package of student grants proposed by the council’s Finance Committee (FiCom) allocated $210 for HIPJ’s “Student Walkout.”
According to HIPJ member Kevin P. Connor ’04, 850 students have pledged to leave their classes in protest should the United States launch military action against Iraq. A vocal demonstration outside the Science Center is planned to follow the walkout.
The grant, which was ultimately approved by the council, will be used by HIPJ to purchase a megaphone, Connor said.
Council representative Joseph R. Oliveri ’05 proposed an amendment to strip the funding for HIPJ from the bill.
“It would be inappropriate for the Undergraduate Council to fund an event that disrupts the educational process,” Oliveri said at the meeting.
The amendment sparked several rounds of heated debate.
Council Vice President Jessica R. Stannard-Friel ’04 supported the funding.
“This isn’t high school. We don’t get detention for skipping class,” Stannard-Friel said. “This is a more educational experience [than class] for some students.”
Outspoken council representative Jason L. Lurie ’05 agreed with Stannard-Friel.
“All of a sudden, the conservatives on the council are saying, ‘We don’t like free speech!’” Lurie yelled, to uproarious laughter and applause. “How dare you!”
“My day is made,” council representative Michael R. Blickstead ’05 said after hearing Lurie’s impassioned remarks.
But Joshua A. Barro ’05, chair of FiCom, opposed the grant on both ideological and technical grounds.
“It is encouraging students to go counter to the reason they’re here,” he said, adding that the megaphone counts as a capital expenditure and therefore should not fall under the heading of “walkout” funding.
But council representative Mary Ellen R. Player ’04 said FiCom was aware that HIPJ planned to use the grant to purchase a megaphone.
The amendment failed by a vote of 11 to 32, with a single abstention, and the grant package was ultimately approved.
Some representatives opposed to the grant said the walkout would hurt the educational opportunities of students who choose not to participate in the event.
“The central feature of the walkout is to be disrespectful to your fellow students and your professor,” said council member Thomas J. Mucha ’03.
Representative Thomas J. Wright ’06 said the protests outside the Science Center would be “loud and disruptive.”
“It’s not appropriate to impress your beliefs on others in a way they have no control over,” Wright said.
The council also passed several other measures at last night’s meeting.
One bill allowed the council’s Campus Life Committee to manage a partnership with the office of University President Lawrence H. Summers for organizing Springfest and “to ensure that this partnership is of near equals and that one party is not allowed to trump the other.”
The bill, which passed easily, is meant to maintain the council’s say in Springfest planning. In the time since Summers’ office sponsored last year’s fair, students have complained that in making Springfest a University-wide event, the interests of undergraduates may have been overlooked.
The council passed a bill allocating $15,000 to the Harvard Concert Commission (HCC), so that HCC may submit bids for a performance on campus by a well-known comedian on May 4.
The comedians who may receive bids from the council are Dave Chappelle, D.L. Hughley, Jimmy Fallon, Jim Breuer and Darrell Hammond.
The council also approved a resolution encouraging the Freshman Dean’s Office to increase funding for the Prefect Program by almost one-third, and a position paper stating that University Health Services should run a website to provide more information to students on mental health.
—Staff writer Alexander J. Blenkinsopp can be reached at email@example.com.
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