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Some political alliances are born out of necessity.
But Undergraduate Council presidential candidate Spenser R. Goodman ’14 and UC vice-presidential candidate Darren C. McLeod ’14 have been friends since before freshman year.
Before they even formally matriculated to the College, they were scrubbing bathrooms for Dorm Crew. Later that year, they would be working side-by-side as freshman UC representatives.
Now, the pair is teaming up again, this time in a bid to run the student government organization that they joined together two years ago.
“It was never about the title,” Goodman says, describing his ambition to fill the top role. “Since day one of freshman year, this is what we’ve been working towards and what we’ve been working on. This is a chance for us to take what we’ve done and what we want to do and make real, lasting changes for the school and for the UC.”
Their platform is concise and, in some ways, strikingly bold.
Goodman and McLeod focus on three goals to bolster a higher objective of expanding social life on campus: reforming the UC’s social programs committee, restructuring the UC’s committee system, and encouraging administrators to change social life policy.
But Goodman emphasizes that these changes to campus life would expand beyond “dancing and parties,” adding that he and McLeod would work to promote sporting events, concerts, talks, and plays.
“We have a different vision for the direction that the Undergraduate Council should be going,” he says.
“The other three tickets are all very similar. If you took their names off of their platforms, they would be the exact same, and no one would be able to identify any differences. They are all on one side, and we are on the other.”
For Goodman, it’s all about the specifics. Goodman says that social life at Harvard is not—but should be—the highest priority for the UC.
In drawing up their platform, Goodman and McLeod say that he deliberately tried to choose achievable reforms to the governing body.
“We are really committed to seeing a change in social life here at Harvard,” Goodman says.
Goodman and McLeod see the Social Programs Committee as the primary vehicle for this change.
The committee, which they would reinstate, would consolidate the functions of many other extant UC committees, overseeing a budget that the organization could deploy to host events on campus.
“Many don’t agree with this, thinking that the UC is responsible for student advocacy, not social life,” Goodman says. “We do not believe this is the case. Darren and I believe social life is the key factor in the happiness of students.”
Goodman argues that for this initiative of improving the social atmosphere on campus, the UC will need to engage students in the process of determining what these events should be.
“Darren and I would encourage other students to bring in ideas themselves. We will point them in the direction of the right resources and people to make their plans come to fruition,” he says.
To support these social events, Goodman and McLeod discuss revamping the UC Finance Committee, which provides more than $400,000 each year to student groups. In the ticket’s platform, this committee would be center-stage of the UC’s functions.
“Right now, this Finance Committee is only 20 percent of the UC—we want to center the UC around the finance and social program committee,” Goodman says. “It’s going to be easier for student groups to come in, to get their money faster, to have their questions answered about the process.”
They may have only just started campaigning on a platform to revitalize campus life, but Goodman and McLeod have been training for this objective throughout their time at the College.
Goodman says he has been involved in almost every mid- to large-size student-run social event on campus since his freshman spring, including chairing Yard Fest last year and organizing an all-school dance two years back.
Goodman is currently planning an all-freshmen dance for the weekend of the Harvard-Yale game. He says he hopes it will be a “safe and fun and inclusive” event for freshmen to attend in light of Harvard policy restricting large-scale House parties.
It is difficult to see where Goodman even finds the time for himself to wind down—a varsity swimmer, Goodman manages a difficult schedule. But friends say they do not doubt his ability to manage his time, if he were elected UC president.
“He’s definitely busy, but he’s someone who really knows how to prioritize. [The UC presidency] would really mean so much to him, and I think he would put that first,” Christy L. DiSilvestro ’14 says.
McLeod, a peer advising fellow and a tutor in Allston, is similarly connected to the student population. McLeod’s roommate Gashaw Clark ’14 says that “it’s impossible” to walk with him. “He stops and talks to every single person—whenever I would go on a walk with him, I just felt like he knew everyone.”
But for Goodman, it’s all about the impact. “We want to make sure that every student feels happy at Harvard and part of a bigger community,” he said.
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