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Council to Vet Plans for Restructuring

By Elena Sorokin, Crimson Staff Writer

Undergraduate Council President Matthew W. Mahan ’05 has proposed a plan for significant restructuring and decentralization of the council’s committees, including an autonomous grants process and a branch expressly for social planning.

If implemented, this reform would be the biggest structural change in the council’s history.

Foremost among the host of organizational issues that the council will examine is the format of the Finance Committee (FiCom), which is currently responsible for distributing 67 percent of the council’s budget to student groups through the grants process.

In an e-mail to council members Sunday, Mahan suggested that FiCom become more independent from the rest of the council, eliminating the council-wide vote on weekly grants packages, which is currently required in order for student groups to receive their money. Mahan also wrote that the Student Affairs Committee (SAC) and Campus Life Committee (CLC) could be restructured and given more autonomy as well.

“Essentially, we’re talking about reducing the degree of centralization we currently have,” Mahan wrote in the e-mail. He could not be reached for further comment last night.

Council President-elect Matthew J. Glazer ’06 noted that these changes were preliminary suggestions, and the final plan might differ significantly from Mahan’s e-mail.

“Matt [Mahan] laid out a pretty comprehensive plan for restructuring, but it’s not the only idea out there,” said Glazer, who added that he would solicit opinions from all council members.

In his e-mail, Mahan said that CLC could be expanded into a broader “social committee” that would include representatives from House Committees (HoCo), student groups such as H-Club and Crimson Key and University Hall’s special assistant to the dean for social programming, a post currently occupied by Zachary A. Corker ’04.

The advocacy services currently provided by SAC would be combined with some routine council services like $1 movie nights to form the third branch.

The council will continue its main roles—providing grant money, advocating for student services, and organizing campus-wide social events—within Mahan’s proposed structure.

Though the size of the council, its budget, and its primary interactions with students would not change, the reforms could affect how House Committees receive council money.

House Committees currently get $1,500 from the Committee Fund, which primarily backs campus-wide events, such as the Jim Breuer comedy show and Bob Dylan concert last semester. They also receive a maximum of $2,000 from the Grants Fund.

Under Mahan’s proposal, HoCos—as well as room-party hosts—would receive all of their money from the Grants Fund.

Council members have been discussing efficiency improvements and structural changes for over a year.

Glazer said he hoped to reach a consensus by the end of the spring. He will be aided by Vice President Michael R. Blickstead ’05 and Mahan, who pledged in the e-mail to see the restructuring through to the end.

Glazer, who will lead the reform process along with Vice President-elect Ian W. Nichols ’06, said that he had not yet set any deadlines for a revision, since he did not want it to be “quick and incomplete.”

“I want to find out what every council member thinks,” Glazer said, adding that student group leaders, HoCo chairs and former council members would also play key roles in the restructuring.

Joshua A. Barro ’05, a chair of Adams HoCo and the former chair of FiCom, said that though he agreed with the broad strokes of Mahan’s ideas, it was important not to “rush the process” by implementing legislation too soon.

“And it’s important to get it right the first time,” Barro said. “This is one of the most important things Matt Glazer can accomplish in his administration.”

—Staff writer Elena P. Sorokin can be reached at sorokin@fas.harvard.edu.

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