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Reconnecting the UC

UC outsiders Willey and Snow pledge to bring council back to students

Unnamed photo
Sarah M Roberts

At first glance on a recent afternoon, Roy T. Willey IV ’09 and Nicholas B. Snow ’09 look like an unlikely pair to be running together to lead the student body. Willey wears a light-green cable-knit sweater with an orange Ralph Lauren logo matching the orange-pink collared shirt layered carefully underneath. Snow dons a blue raincoat thrown over a plain white T-shirt and jeans.

Under the surface, the story of this duo is more complex. Both enjoy fishing and play for the Harvard Polo Club. Willey, of Delmar, Del., is also involved with the Institute of Politics and the fraternity Sigma Alpha Epsilon, while Snow, of Ipswich, Mass., and a citizen of the U.S. and Sweden, used to play as a forward on Harvard’s varsity hockey team and is a member of the A.D. final club.

Willey and Snow say it’s their biographical mix that would help them, as president and vice president respectively, pull the Undergraduate Council out of what they say is a deepening disconnect with the student body.

“A large part of the social scene is unheard from,” Snow says. “They’d be lucky to know who the president and vice president is.”

SEEKING CHANGE

The two say they decided to run for the top spots on the UC because the council’s current leadership has failed to grasp that the College needs a change in direction. According to Willey, the UC has not made any real progress that students care about. In fact, he says, the UC has lost ground by compromising with the College on the party fund and focusing on issues unimportant to the average student, such as foreign policy resolutions and lunches with administrators.

“We wouldn’t be running if we didn’t think there was [anything] to improve,” Snow says. He argued that the UC focuses on a small group of people already involved in the UC, leaving most other students either ignorant or apathetic towards the council’s work. Both repeatedly cast the fact that only about half of the undergraduate population voted in last year’s UC presidential election—even though there were six tickets involved—as evidence of the council’s declining relevance.

“That goes to show you that even with that amount of people involved in the race, not even half of the Harvard student body cared enough,” Willey says.

In response to this perceived apathy, Willey and Snow hope to engage a larger audience. “We want to bring people into the process who haven’t been called up or haven’t been asked about their opinions,” Willey says.

Willey said that the duo would accomplish this by focusing on student groups, athletic teams, and social groups—the backbone, he says, of the Harvard community.

According to Snow, the UC should find what these groups, as well as the undergraduate Houses, specifically need, instead of handing out large chunks of money. Willey and Snow say they hope to give as much money as possible—but directed toward more specific demands.

“We want to sit down with leaders of these groups and ask, ‘What do you need?’” Willey says, “We need to allocate funds based on needs.”

TV AND BEER

As an example of pushing for change that students actually want, Willey and Snow say they hope to give dorm rooms access to cable television.

The two also say they will try to re-establish the UC party fund in its original form. The fund provided grants for alcohol purchased for parties in undergraduate dorm rooms until College administrators decreed an end to the program earlier this semester.

Snow says that, because of the current UC leadership’s “lack of prioritizing,” the party fund and a general emphasis on student life have gone by the wayside—in part under the leadership of the favorite in this year’s race, current Vice President Matthew L. Sundquist ’09.

Just as Snow and Willey discuss the UC’s current leadership, Sundquist himself walks by and gives Willey a hearty slap on the shoulder. He offers a few words of advice concerning the small window of time (less than one week) that candidates will be allowed to campaign this year.

As Sundquist heads to a photo shoot a few yards away in the hall outside the Queen’s Head Pub, Snow and Willey exchange glances. Then they take the interview off the record.

“We’re ready to go,” Snow says of his campaign a few minutes later. “Nothing to lose. The incumbent wins all the time in the UC—we’re hoping to change that.”
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