Undergraduate Council President Rohit Chopra ’04 and Vice President Jessica R. Stannard-Friel ’04 bid a tearful goodbye to the council Sunday, during the final meeting of their tenure.
Chopra unsuccessfully fought back tears as he thanked his friends and reminisced about his year battling administrators, bolstering campus social life and fighting to keep his sanity.
“I will never forget this year we shared together. Thank you for dealing with me and finally we are free,” he said.
Chopra and Stannard-Friel said they had delivered on their platform, which focused on increased council presence in students’ daily lives, better student advocacy and increased student representation.
“A year later, I can actually say we made Harvard a little more normal,” Chopra said.
Chopra cited the institution of dollar movie nights, success in planning large and small concerts, and council sponsorship of room parties, tailgates and equipment for House gyms as student life successes of the past year.
But Chopra said that his and Stannard-Friel’s tenure wasn’t just a walk in the park.
“This was a very tough year,” Chopra said.
Chopra said that the Council had to become more reactive than proactive after an administrative reshuffling, which began with the forced resignation of then-Dean of the College Harry R. Lewis ’68, who served as an unofficial advisor to the council.
“Every contact we seemed to have was dropping like flies,” Chopra said. “The Undergraduate Council was going to do a lot more reacting...stop[ping] bad things from happening instead of making good things happen.”
Chopra attributed the council’s successes in the past year to his at times adversarial, at times friendly dealings with administrators.
“It’s really something just so natural that happens,” Chopra said, about making friends with the administration. “This is how we make this whole thing work.”
Chopra said that he thought his method was summed up by a compliment he received from a Faculty Council member, who wrote in an e-mail: “Rohit, you have mastered the art of saying ‘fuck you’ with a smile.”
Chopra said that his presidency had its share of equally surprising moments.
“It didn’t turn out how I expected it to be. A lot of it was really weird,” he said.