The Committee on Student Life approved 31 student organizations at its meeting last week, among them a group for first-generation college students, the group that puts on the spring fashion show “Eleganza,” and two groups supporting students in the bisexual, gay, lesbian, trangender, and queer community.
The approved groups, which must still complete required training on Nov. 22 and Nov. 25 before they become officially recognized student organizations, represent an array of interests. Some produce publications, others are dedicated to academic endeavors, and still others perform community service.
After last week’s meeting, Undergraduate Council President Tara Raghuveer ’14, who sits on the Committee, welcomed the increased group activity and denied that it followed efforts at resume padding.
“I’m always an advocate for students who have a passion and want to start a group about that passion to do that,” Raghuveer said. “I don’t like the way the discussion is framed whereby people talk about student organizations as resume builders, as just superfluous things that people like to propose in order to be a founder. In some cases that might be true, but in my experience that’s the exception as opposed to the rule.”
One newly approved organization that members of the Committee highlighted in interviews after the meeting is the Harvard College First Generation Student Union. “I think it’s a wonderful group,” Dean of Student Life Stephen Lassonde said after the meeting.
According to Daniel M. Lobo ’14, one of the group’s founders, the organization aims to “facilitat[e] the transition for first-generation students to college,” “[build] a community of first-gens,” and “advocat[e] for a greater institutional response to the first-gen identity.”
To gain official College recognition, aspiring organizations are required to submit applications to the Office of Student Life. Once recognized, they are allowed to apply for funding through the UC and reserve space for meetings.
Raghuveer suggested that that administrators should reexamine the UC’s budget in light of the approval of the groups. The UC has faced increased budget constraints this fall, limiting its overall ability to fund student groups, including club sports teams.
“It is a disservice, I think, to approve a student group and tell them that as a recognized student group they qualify to apply for funding, and then they go and apply for funding and we just aren’t able to fund them at the amount that they need,” Raghuveer said. “Especially as a new group, that really impacts their ability to grow and institutionalize.”
More than twice as many student groups were credentialed last week than were in fall 2012. Among the 15 organizations registered last fall was Harvard College Munch, the kinky sex discussion group whose approval generated national media attention.
–Staff writer Madeline R. Conway can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @MadelineRConway.