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The Harvard Graduate Council announced that Harvard will officially recognize university-wide student groups in a press release yesterday.
The pilot program, which has been in the works for two years, will give 10 student organizations the opportunity to claim university-wide status in the next academic year.
Even though this idea has been discussed for some time, it was difficult for the various groups to collaborate to bring it to fruition because of University decentralization, according to Aaron D. Chadbourne ’06, former president of the Harvard Graduate Council and current student at Harvard Law and Business Schools.
Chadbourne said he believes the two-year effort will pay off.
“Being part of a university should mean that we should be able to connect to all parts of the University,” Chadbourne said. “When we were looking for ways for people to connect to each other, we found that the best way is through shared interests and shared passions. The mechanism was to put the people together with shared interests and different skill sets, so that amazing things can happen.”
Current President of the Harvard Graduate Council Pukar Malla echoed these sentiments.
“The program will also help create a more engaged student community, enabling us to live up to the ideals of One Harvard,” said Malla, who is a student at the Harvard Kennedy School.
Many student organizations across the University have been trying to gain university-wide status for some time, in the hopes of having a greater impact on campus.
Mariam Chughtai, a fourth year doctoral student at the Graduate School of Education and president of the Harvard Pakistan Student Group, said she is thrilled that after a long process, the University is willing to grant legitimacy to university-wide groups.
“Students that care about the same issues are dispersed across schools in small pockets within the schools,” Chughtai said. “Without a centralized system, they will never come in contact with other Harvard students who care about the same issues. Harvard needs to facilitate these students so they can network and collaborate.”
Chughtai added that Harvard’s recognition of university-wide groups will allow student organizations with similar missions to support each other instead of fighting over resources.
“Members of Harvard Pakistan Student Group have school-based organizations as well,” she said. “The organizations are not in competition with the university-wide group. Instead they strengthen each other.”
Though many say that the presence of university-wide groups will benefit all of Harvard, the program still faces a number of concerns.
There are no shared resources and infrastructure, which may pose problems for these new groups. Additionally, each of the groups will have to find funding.
Some of the stipulations of being a university-wide organization include having members from at least three different schools, with a minimum of 20 members overall. The group must be led by a president, secretary, and treasurer and only have enrolled degree-seeking students as officers.
The Harvard Graduate Council is accepting applications from student organizations seeking university-wide status until 5 p.m. on May 2. Candidates will be informed of the decisions by May 16.
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