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Eight members of Harvard’s Undergraduate Council joined student government leaders from the Ivy League to discuss common college concerns at the first Ivy Council conference of the academic year.
Meeting at Cornell from Nov. 5 to 7, Ivy Council attendees discussed topics such as academic affairs, student group funding, student representation on college judicial committees and efforts to increase federal financial aid.
Harvard’s system for funding student groups differs from other schools’ systems because the Undergraduate Council controls a budget of $317,000, the lowest compared to the other Ivies at the conference, with budgets ranging from Brown’s $788,000 to University of Pennsylvania’s $1.4 million, according to Harvard Head Delegate Samita A. Mannapperuma ’06.
At Harvard, $222,000 from the total budget goes to student groups, compared to all $788,000 at Brown and $1.2 million at the University of Pennsylvania, Mannapperuma said.
Harvard also differs in its dispersal procedure, accepting and approving applications for funds from student groups on a weekly basis. Other schools approve funding for student groups on an annual or biennial basis.
Brown Head Delegate Sarah G. Saxton-Frump, a sophomore, praised Cornell and Harvard’s student funding processes. “Specifically, Harvard and Cornell’s finance systems seem to be very effective. This year, I also sit on our finance board and we are writing our by-laws so I am bringing home ideas that I can use from our break-out sessions,” Saxton-Frump said.
Mannapperuma, who is also the Undergraduate Council’s Finance Policy chair and a Crimson editor, said she was also interested in learning about Cornell’s funding system.
Cornell controls its student funds based on need, setting the student activities fee after accepting applications for funds from student groups. This is the opposite of Harvard’s system, which sets the student activities fee and then decides how to distribute the money, according to Mannapperuma.
“Cornell has a comprehensive funding guidelines booklet with everything codified,” she added.
For example, Cornell allocates a maximum of 1.8 cents per photocopy and 37.5 cents per mile traveled by air for any performer or speaker arranged by a student group, according to Cornell’s Student Assembly Finance Commission President and Treasurer Handbook.
Last year, Harvard’s Undergraduate Council passed a position paper entitled “Calling for Student Representation on the Administrative Board,” but held off pursuing the issue until the administration appointed a deputy dean of the College, according to Undergraduate Council President Matthew W. Mahan ’05. Patricia O’Brien was named deputy dean of the College in June.
Based on Ivy Council discussions about student representation on judicial committees, Aaron D. Chadbourne ’06, Harvard’s voting delegate for policy on the Ivy Council, wrote in an e-mail that Harvard’s Undergraduate Council will revisit the issue this year.
“Now that Dean O’Brien is in place, and we have much more information about the way our peer institutions provide for student representation on their judicial committees, I am confident that there will be a renewed and reinvigorated push to add voting student representatives to Harvard’s Ad Board,” Chadbourne said.
Harvard’s eight-person delegation was interested in academic affairs because Harvard’s Undergraduate Council is currently evaluating last year’s curricular review recommendations. Harvard delegates sought to find out “what other schools do, what works and what doesn’t so we can present more informed and more progressive options to our administration,” said Mannapperuma.
Ivy Council discussions also turned to the topic of financial aid.
The National Tuition Endowment Act, proposed and circulated over the summer by Columbia students, aims to convince Congress to allocate more financial aid for higher education, said Saxton-Frump. Discussion of the act was tabled until all member schools have had more time to consider it, said Mannapperuma.
The Ivy Council will meet again in the spring at Dartmouth.
Yale was the only Ivy League school absent from the conference.
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