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UC Passes Stricter Endorsement Bill

By Rachael E. Apfel, Crimson Staff Writer

The Undergraduate Council passed legislation creating stricter guidelines for endorsing student movements at its general meeting last night.

The legislation was created to address the Council’s lack of formal guidelines for granting or denying endorsement to student movements, according to the legislation.

The bill limits political endorsements the UC can make to ones solely involved with University policy and requires those seeking UC support to provide more information about the initiative.

“This specific act was in immediate response to problems that arose in endorsing the Cage Free Eggs movement,” said Jimmy P. Biblarz ’14, co-sponsor of the act. “But we’ve been dealing with this lack of consistency with the UC endorsement thing since Marty Peretz.”

Last fall, student backlash against the establishment of a fund in honor of Martin “Marty” H. Peretz—who attracted criticism for making inflammatory comments about Muslims in a blog post—led the Council to pass legislation condemning the University’s decision.

Due to the inconsistency in procedure, the co-sponsors of the act agreed that too much time was wasted deliberating whether it was the UC’s place to be endorsing specific student initiatives and, consequently, taking away from more important discussions concerning upcoming projects and other business.

“The strength of this legislation is that it provides a clear definition of what can even be considered,” said Danny P. Bicknell ’13, co-sponsor of the act.

Biblarz agreed, saying that this legislation is important because it “codifies” what the UC can endorse.

“It doesn’t mean we have to endorse it,” he said. “But this identifies that it is our right.”

Some UC members voiced concerns that student organizations would be “turned off” by these new procedures, which could be construed as further complicating the endorsement process.

The co-sponsors said they already anticipated this potential deterrent and intend to offer the assistance of a UC representative to “shepherd” student groups through the endorsement process.

“We want to welcome student groups in,” said UC President Senan Ebrahim ’12. “We don’t want this to be presented as more hurdles for students to jump through in order to be endorsed.”

According to the co-sponsors, the requirements should not be viewed as obstacles, as the legislation is largely intended to set clearer standards and make the process more objective and smooth.

“One of the problems we had with a lot of student groups was that they didn’t know what they wanted or what they wanted to get out of the UC,” Biblarz said. “Any legitimate organization should have this identified for themselves, and we are just requiring that they have it written for us as well.”

—Staff writer Rachael E. Apfel can be reached at rachaelapfel@college.harvard.edu.

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On CampusUndergraduate CouncilStudent Life