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UC Candidates Face Questions on Health

Undergraduate Council presidential and vice presidential candidates participate in a debate on health issues sponsored by the Community Health Initiative in Loker Commons yesterday evening.
Undergraduate Council presidential and vice presidential candidates participate in a debate on health issues sponsored by the Community Health Initiative in Loker Commons yesterday evening.
By Jennifer P. Jordan, Contributing Writer

At last night’s first-ever Undergraduate Council Presidential Health Debate, the candidates gathered to field questions on topics ranging from binge drinking to campus safety to the level of student stress.

Center for Health and Wellness Manager Kelli M. Bannager moderated, querying the candidates on topics posed by the Community Health Initiative. Though the candidates agreed on many central issues—like reducing student stress and creating more opportunities for responsible recreation—they presented different approaches to achieving these common goals.

Presidential Candidate Matthew J. Glazer ’06 and running-mate Clay T. Capp ’06 repeatedly emphasized their previous experience working on the Council.

“The seriousness of all these issues underscores the necessity of having people on the UC who can actually deliver on these things...that’s why experience matters,” Capp said.

Glazer and Capp also highlighted the role the curricular review could play in reducing students’ workload.

“We can make sure mental health issues are a key part of this review,” said Glazer. “We can reform the calendar to make breaks after exams and to make sure that there isn’t a backlog of work in December.”

Presidential candidate Tracy “Ty” Moore II ’06, while acknowledging the potential for improvement through the curricular review, focused his attention on the need for a centralized mental health resource. He mentioned the difficulty of navigating scattered campus resources, and proposed implementing a single phone number or website that would refer students to the proper place for help. Glazer, in his rebuttal, pointed out that the council has been working on a centralized website called help.harvard.edu that should be implemented in the next month.

Presidential candidate Teo P. Nicolais ’06 cited a strong sense of community as one of the best ways to improve student mental health on campus. He proposed creating more opportunites for students to gather socially and take a break from the academic grind.

“We have to be able to enjoy the atmosphere,” he said. “We are not just study-bots that can study 24 hours a day....We need to create a community that makes you realize this is your home and not just a study compartment that we work in.”

Moore also spoke of the importance of promoting diversity on campus, saying that the council should make a special effort to reach out to different student groups and improve faculty diversity.

“I think it’s extremely important that students feel comfortable on a campus like this, and that the diversity of the faculty mimic the phenomenal diversity of the student body,” he said.

All the candidates seemed to agree on the need for more opportunities for students to let loose responsibly. They pointed out that if the University were to acknowledge that college students drink, students may then be less likely to drink to excess.

“Students need to learn that you don’t need to binge drink every time you see a keg,” Nicolais said. “The way we can do this is to work with the administration to show that parties are OK.”

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