Our extensive work on the Undergraduate Council and as student group leaders has allowed us to see the potential of this campus and given us the knowledge and skills to help Harvard reach this potential.
A common theme of this campaign season has been one of change. People want to see a change in the way they are able to express their opinions, a change in the way they are represented and a change in the way the Undergraduate Council serves them. Our candidacy brings to you this promise of change in an informed way.
We will continue to maintain the spirit of service and dedication that brought 51 council representatives together to improve Harvard, but we will change the philosophy of this body in order to create a true student government that is responsive to student needs.
We believe that the best way to serve students is to reach out to them and engage them in all that we do. Students should be able to pick which artist they want to see at concerts and which movies they want to watch at our one-dollar movie nights. House Committees should be able to provide input on how their allocation packages are structured. Student groups should have input on the future of student space on campus.
This year is an exciting time for the campus and the Undergraduate Council. We are in the middle of a historic Curricular Review, Allston campus expansion planning and an increase in the council’s budget. At this important juncture that will influence the Harvard experience in years to come, we see a valuable opportunity for reflection an opportunity to create something new.
The first step toward change requires us to build a council truly connected to the campus. We realize that cultivating a more active and fun campus requires more than sporadic events run by council members. With a budget twice the size of the previous council’s, we can better support student groups who put on campus-wide events.
With her extensive experience as a student group leader, Samita brings a much-needed perspective to council leadership. It is important to have someone who knows what it is like to work with the council from the outside. She understands the challenges and frustrations that student groups face as they try to make a difference on campus.
Of all of the candidates, Teo has brought about the most significant change to the way the council supports student groups through his restructuring of the Finance Committee. At a time when the council was focused on improving upon its existing six-week funding cycle, Teo implemented a revolutionary plan that succeeded in reducing this funding cycle to just eight days.
We are also committed to making Harvard a more social and fun campus for everyone. Teo expanded the Party Fund to subsidize room parties on campus. Next semester, we will continue to increase the Party Fund so you have more alternatives on a Friday and Saturday night. We will get bulk contracts for kegs so you can get more beer for less money.
With respect to academics, we will make the most of the Curricular Review. In early February, the Curricular Review committees will recommend substantial changes to core requirements, the calendar, study aboard programs and more. The current council has not done enough to include, inform or seek input from the student body. We will seek student input through campus wide surveys and open discussion forums.
Additionally, mid-semester Teaching Fellow (TF) evaluations and incentives for excellent performance must be adopted. Your success as a student often relies on the quality of your TF. Currently, TFs have no reason to work harder and make your courses better. If we expect TFs to do more, we need to give them the motivation to do it.
We also have to improve study space. Cabot Science Library needs to be open 24 hours a day. Harvard students work hard, long hours to succeed. You deserve a place to study even when you work late.
Along those same lines, dining halls should also remain open later. Students are awake long after the dining halls close and bagels can only go so far. We will propose a concrete plan to provide grill orders, sandwich bars and pre-made soups for several hours after dining halls close.
Finally, the council must make the structural reforms it promised when we raised your student fees. This semester the Jim Breuer show lost $15,000 while House Committees were initially offered less than the amount they received last semester. This has to change. We will change it.
Ultimately, our proven record of accomplishment separates our ticket from the others. It is crucial for the next council President and Vice-President to work with the council to implement change. Both inside and outside of the council, we have demonstrated records of implementing effective change.
In the end we are running because we see a true potential, both for the council and for the student body, to reach new heights. Over the last two years, we’ve experienced Harvard in many ways and through these experiences we have seen real opportunity for improvement and for change. We are prepared to bring about this change and look forward to guiding the council in an innovative and new direction.
Teo P. Nicolais ’06, an economics concentrator in Lowell House, is chair of the Undergraduate Council’s Financial Committee. Samita A. Mannapperuma ’06, an economics concentrator in Currier House is chair of the council’s Finance Policy Committee. They are running for president and vice-president of the council, respectively.