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In First Meeting of the Year, UC Discusses Role As Advocate for Students

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Though representatives have already been assigned to compile opinions on the referenda related to a discounted transportation pass for students and gender-neutral housing, Council members debated about whether the UC is obligated to advocate for a ban on plastic water bottle sales and push for University endorsement of immigration reform policy.

Treasurer Meghamsh Kanuparthy ’16 cautioned the Council of the consequences of disregarding their rules and feeling obligated to take up the referenda issues.

“We set the thresholds for a reason,” he said. “We don’t want to be in a position where we are ignoring our own laws.”

Meanwhile, Dudley House representative Allison Gofman ’14 expressed concern about the students who had pushed for the initiatives, saying that the bottle ban activists would be “profoundly disappointed” if the Council did little to advocate their position. She later agreed to serve as the point person for presenting an opinion to the Council.

Still, Mayopoulos said that currently, the Council is still confused about exactly how to advocate for students.

“My concern is that we don’t really know what students are passionate about,” he said.

UC members also shared status updates on the Council’s initiatives for the year.

Kanuparthy discussed the problems the Council faced in distributing funds to student groups via direct deposit. Money does not always reach the accounts of organizations when students do not deposit checks, he said. And while the majority of Wintersession funds were granted using direct deposit, Kanuparthy said that because of concerns from both the Harvard administration and the UC, he could not confirm that the Council will definitely move to using only direct deposit.

In addition, Ava Nasrollahzadeh ’16, chair of the Student Relations Committee, announced that the new website, intended to be more user friendly, will be launched Monday.

—Staff writer Noah Delwiche can be reached at ndelwiche@college.harvard.edu.

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