The Undergraduate Council presented an unusually thick agenda at its general meeting last night, passing six different pieces of legislation, including an act to support Harvard Students for Safe Space despite strong feelings of opposition from particular council members.
Under the act, the UC will publicly support various goals of the Harvard Students for Safe Space—a recognized student group committed to increasing the safety and accessibility of social space on campus.
Some of the most prominent provisions of the act include a call for an increase in funding for student-initiated parties and a stronger effort to make existing common spaces—such as house Junior Common Rooms—more readily available.
“Through our conversations with final club members and the administration, we found that it is much more productive to emphasize alternatives,” said Jason Q. Berkenfeld ’11, co-coordinator of the HSSS movement. “This is about taking the space we already have and making it more socially conducive.”
With this legislation, HSSS hopes to “wed” their organization with the UC in order to “present a united front to administration,” according to Berkenfeld.
“This act is a byproduct of a lot of hard work with these students,” UC President Senan Ebrahim ’12 said. “There has been a lot of work amongst sponsors to finalize the language.”
Although the legislation passed unanimously, strong opposition was voiced when the meeting came to a close, particularly by UC Student Initiatives Committee Chair David Gonzalez ’11, who was not present when the vote took place.
According to Gonzalez, the passage of the act represented a Council endorsement of a controversial campaign that “puts one group of students against another.”
“This basically implies that final clubs are deserving of a higher level of scrutiny and deserve to have more aspersions cast upon them,” Gonzalez said. “I’m a poor, Mexican Catholic from public school in Texas, so obviously I don’t have a special affinity towards final clubs, but this is not something I can support.”
Despite this opposition, Ebrahim maintained strong support.
“This act is to make a public statement that we are supporting the efforts of this organization,” he said. “The least we can do, on behalf of the student body, is to vote to approve initiatives for improving social space.”
—Staff writer Rachael E. Apfel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org