Council Allocates Funding for OWAW

The Undergraduate Council allocated $20,000 last night to 35 student-sponsored programs to hold events during Optional Winter Activities Week, the final week before the beginning of the spring semester.

The UC has spearheaded funding for student-initiated events for the inaugural OWAW, during which time the College will re-open to all students.

The UC granted OWAW funding to recognized student groups, including grants to fund a Harvard Ski Club trip and a film project for Harvard Undergraduate Television.

And although term-time UC grants are only available to College-recognized student groups, students not affiliated with official groups were also eligible to apply for OWAW funding. Independent programs the Council will fund this January include a laser tag outing and a brewing workshop.

Many of the student-sponsored programs—such as a raffle for Celtics tickets, and a trip to the New England Aquarium—focused on opportunities for students to explore Boston.

“One of the things we hear that Harvard students complain about is that they have this great resource of Boston that they don’t take have the time to take advantage of,” said UC Finance Committee Chair Luis A. Martinez ’12.

Bryan Cortez ’13, who has organized a series of outings in Boston, including a trip to the North End, said he was satisfied with the UC grant process for his proposed activities.

But he added that he was worried that the lack of publicity for the funding may have limited the number and types of events students proposed to the Council.

Martinez expressed concerns that the UC funding—the only source of funding for student-initiated programming during the week—was insufficient to support an extensive range of student-initiated events, saying that $20,000 “isn’t going to make a fantastic week.”

In addition to the student-sponsored, UC-funded programming, students will also be able to participate in January Arts Intensives—a series of arts workshops—and several faculty-proposed events. The deadline to register an official OWAW program is this Friday, Dec. 3.

Dean of the College Evelynn M. Hammonds expressed optimism about OWAW.

“Coming back a week early and not just two days before classes start is a good thing, in my opinion,” said Hammonds in an interview earlier this month. She added that students can also use the time to plan for spring classes, go to the Office of Career Services, and begin working on summer fellowship applications.

Over the next month, the UC will work to publicize the optional week and encourage students to participate in the 35 approved programs, according to UC Vice President Eric N. Hysen ’11.

“We need to make sure people actually know to book flights back in time,” Hysen said.

—Staff writer Stephanie B. Garlock can be reached at

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

CORRECTION: December 1, 2010

An earlier version of the Nov. 30 article "Council Allocates Funding for OWAW" incorrectly stated that the Battle of the Bands was an independent program. In fact, Battle of the Bands is organized by WHRB, Harvard radio broadcasting.


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