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Student Fee To Rise in Fall

Faculty Council approves $60 fee for next year, $75 for 2005-2006

By Jeffrey C. Aguero and Joshua D. Gottlieb, Crimson Staff Writerss

The Faculty Council on Wednesday approved the student body’s vote in a referendum two weeks ago to raise the optional Student Activities Fee to $75 from its current $35.

In its last meeting of the academic year, the Faculty Council unanimously supported a plan proposed by Undergraduate Council President Matthew W. Mahan ’05 to implement the fee hike over two years, with a $60 fee taking effect for the 2004-2005 school year and a $75 fee the year after.

Although the student referendum made no mention of a two-part increase, Dean of the College Benedict H. Gross ’71 wrote in an e-mail yesterday that he had suggested that Mahan prepare a proposal for the Faculty Council that the body would find more amenable than an immediate $40 spike.

“ I...told him that I thought it was unlikely that the Council would approve an increase to $75 immediately,” Gross wrote. “We discussed some alternatives, and I suggested that the UC prepare a proposal that he was comfortable with.”

Mahan wrote in an e-mail to the Lowell House open e-mail list last night that one of the reasons he decided to recommend a two-stage increase was to make it palatable to the Faculty Council.

“If we went in demanding $75, lump-sum, all next year, I cannot assure that we would have gotten anything at all, so that was a decision I had to make,” Mahan wrote.

According to Gross, Mahan’s success in securing the Faculty Council’s approval was the final decision needed to implement the fee increase.

“As long as the fee was not mandatory, it did not have to be approved by the Corporation,” Gross wrote in an e-mail.

The Faculty granted the 18-professor Faculty Council authority to increase the fee in 2001, and then-Dean of the College Harry R. Lewis ’68 told the Faculty at the time that the Faculty Council’s new authority was intended to facilitate increases corresponding with inflation.

In a College-wide referendum from April 28 to May 1, students approved an increase to $75 by a 6-percent margin and rejected the proposal to make it mandatory by 11 percentage points.

Mahan’s proposal to phase in the fee hike, which was announced only the night before the Faculty Council meeting, immediately drew harsh criticism from Undergraduate Council representatives and put Mahan on the defensive.

Mahan did not discuss his proposal for a phased-in increase with the council as a whole, and some members were upset that they were not informed of the proposal prior to Mahan’s message to the e-mail lists.

“The failure in this instance to seek advice from the council or at the very least give us the heads up that you would be announcing it to our constituents is deeply unsettling,” Aaron D. Chadbourne ’06 wrote in an e-mail to the council’s open list.

Chadbourne—along with the other Lowell House representatives, Teo P. Nicolais ’06 and Polly W. Klyce ’06—also expressed his disappointment with Mahan’s methods in an e-mail to the Lowell House open list.

“The Lowell Delegation strongly disapproves of Matt’s failure to consult the elected representatives of Undergraduate Council, thereby allowing us to seek your input, before making such a policy change,” the trio wrote. “Though $60 may indeed be a more appropriate amount for the coming year, there has been no discussion of how the budget you voted on several weeks ago will be altered.”

Mahan was quick to respond to the allegations of not being consulted on the issue in another e-mail to the council’s open list.

“I apologize for [the e-mail sent to the House e-mail lists] not making [the] UC General [open list] earlier. I thought it went to all house lists and UC General, but apparently it only went to the house lists,” Mahan wrote to the council.

Mahan maintained that the recommendation was his personal view and was not made on behalf of the council as a whole.

“Regardless, [constituent concerns and questions] is not something you should be answering for me—it is not a UC decision,” Mahan wrote. “I am simply going to recommend a two-year phase-in and I felt that the student body should know before the Crimson found out. The deans will do whatever they like, including possibly postponing this for a year or two despite the referendum.”

Mahan said he consulted with half a dozen members of the council as well as other students and administrators before he made his final decision on Tuesday.

While council members objected to the way the proposal was handled, representatives on both sides of the increase question seemed to approve of the phase-in of the fee.

“I think the policy itself makes sense—I don’t think the UC can handle the budget of a full $75 increase in one year,” former council member Joshua A. Barro ’05 said.

In his e-mail to Lowell House last night, Mahan offered the same rationale for the phase-in—a rare instance of agreement between Barro and Mahan on any facet of the termbill fee increase.

Barro, who led the opposition to the increase and resigned from the council after the referendum passed, also said the phase-in will allow the council to see how students feel about the council’s ability to handle the increase.

“I also think it will allow us to see how the number of opt-outs change next year,” said Barro, in reference to the number of students who choose not to pay the optional fee.

Russell M. Anello ’04, author of the original bill to increase the Student Activites Fee, also posted an e-mail in support of Mahan’s change.

“I believe there is enough need to raise it immediately to $75, but a phase-in would give the UC some time to get used to increased revenue and decide whether any structural changes need to take place before taking charge of the full 75 dollar fee,” Anello wrote.

During its meeting on Wednesday, the Faculty Council dealt with a few other Faculty issues.

The Council heard reports on the progress of the Committee to Address Alcohol and Health at Harvard and on the creation of a new African Studies concentration in the Department of African and African-American Studies.

Currier House Master Joseph L. Badaracco, a professor at Harvard Business School, said the alcohol and health committee’s work is still in progress, but he plans to give Gross a final report by the end of this academic year.

“We are likely to endorse additional educational efforts to inform students about the hazards of dangerous drinking, improved intervention and counseling services, and better communication of critical policies,” Badaracco wrote in an e-mail.

The Badaracco Committee is composed of 12 members besides Badaracco, including three undergraduates.

Professor of History and of African and African American Studies Emmanuel K. Akyeampong and Thomas Professor of History and of African and African American Studies Evelyn B. Higginbotham told the Faculty Council on Wednesday about the new African Studies concentration, which Akyeampong said was approved last month by the Educational Policy Committee—a body that advises Dean of the Faculty William C. Kirby.

Akyeampong said the new concentration will open this fall to students in the Class of 2006 and younger.

The concentration will replace the current certificate in African studies, and will emphasize the study of African languages, interdisciplinary work and study abroad.

African studies will exist alongside the existing concentration in Afro-American studies.

“We anticipate that this partnership will start to encourage synergy between the two fields,” Akyeampong said.

—Staff writer Jeffrey C. Aguero can be reached at aguero@fas.harvard.edu.

—Staff writer Joshua D. Gottlieb can be reached at jdgottl@fas.harvard.edu.

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