The Undergraduate Council passed legislation last night that would overhaul the student group recognition process, creating a joint student-faculty committee comprised equally of students and administrators that will approve new student organizations.
The legislation, entitled the “Student Organization Recognition Act,” amends UC bylaws to place the responsibility of approving new student groups in the hands of the Student Organization Recognition Board, which will have significant UC membership.
The Board will consist of eight UC members—the UC President and Vice President, the Chair and Vice Chair of the Student Relations Committee, and four SRC members. The remainder of the Board will comprise eight College administrators, three from the Office of Student Life and five from Harvard institutions—such as the Phillips Brooks House Association and o specific goals of different student groups.
“This is the first time in the UC’s history that we’re putting a foundation for a student-faculty committee that does a very important task in the UC’s bylaws,” said Eric N. Hysen ’11, chair of the Rules Committee and a member of the Crimson IT Board. “It’s a very important precedent for how the UC can be involved in governing student life.”
UC President Andrea R. Flores ’10 said that the new structure will give the UC “institutional legitimacy.”
“Putting students responsible for the growth of their extracurricular life is incredibly empowering,” she said.
The reforms were created to address what was seen as an inefficiency in the student-group approval process. Previously, the student-faculty Committee on College Life, which met monthly, spent “an inordinate amount of time” sorting through student group applications, said Paul J. McLoughlin II, Assistant Dean of the College.
According to UC Student Life Committee Chair Senan Ebrahim ’12, the change in bylaws also allows those seeking to form student groups a chance to advocate for themselves more thoroughly.
The legislation passed unanimously, but one source of contention was whether to restrict student membership on the Student Organization Recognition Board solely to members of SRC.
SRC Chair Daniel V. Kroop ’10 argued that the SRC was the appropriate body to oversee student group approval because of its role as liaison to the student body. This role would help “the committee stay relevant as a focal point of interaction between students and the UC,” he said.
UC Vice President Kia J. McLeod ’10 proposed an amendment that would require one member of the UC Finance Committee to sit in on Board meetings as a non-voting member in order to give FiCom a glimpse of the “bigger picture” of student groups.
This recent amendment passed on the heels of an unsuccessful one proposed by Mallika Khandelwal ’11, chair of the Student Initiatives Committee, that would have replaced one SRC member on the Board with a voting member of the FiCom.
In addition, the UC approved legislation last night that would partner the Committee with Harvard Student Agencies to provide shuttle service to and from Yale during the Harvard-Yale Football Game. The UC also supported creation of a new ad hoc student committee to discuss education and other topics such as financial aid for students.
—Staff writer Melody Y. Hu can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.