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Council Leaders Detail Measures To Increase Student Voice

By Noah J. Delwiche, Crimson Staff Writer

Following a meeting with University President Drew G. Faust last week, Undergraduate Council leaders are moving forward with plans to better include student voice in administrative and faculty decisions.

On Friday, UC President Gus A. Mayopoulos '15 and Vice President Sietse K. Goffard '15 sat down with Faust to share grievances they have vocally levelled against administrators relating to the inclusion of student voice in recent policy changes. Among the changes in which Mayopoulos contends students were not involved are the University’s new sexual harassment policy and the removal of difficulty ratings from the Q Guide.

The tone of the meeting differed markedly from Council leaders’ February meeting with Faust, in which they demanded an additional $250,000 in funding for the Council and hosted a large rally outside Massachusetts Hall.

Mayopoulos said that on Friday Faust expressed a “strong interest” in many of the Council’s ideas to include student input in Faculty of Arts and Sciences’ decisions, including the ability for the Council to submit amicus-style briefs before items on the Faculty Council’s agenda come to a vote.

Mayopoulos added that Faust guaranteed that undergraduates will serve on an upcoming committee to review the University’s sexual harassment policy, which was adopted this summer.

“I think we both left the meeting feeling very much that President Faust was on our side and very enthusiastic about some of our proposed ideas,” Goffard said in an interview on Saturday.

The UC leaders said they plan to meet with FAS Dean Michael D. Smith and Dean of the College Rakesh Khurana in the coming weeks in an attempt to formalize their goals.

The recent emphasis on student voice by Mayopoulos and Goffard marks a strong shift for the Council, which had previously prioritized increasing funding for student groups over other initiatives.


Mayopoulos and Goffard summarized their efforts to the full Undergraduate Council at its general meeting on Sunday, before moving on to other legislation meant to show support for gender and racial diversity.

The Council also allocated time to review and explicate internal rules on Council procedures. Parliamentarian William Oh '18 clarified procedures for legislation to Council representatives who, in recent weeks, have expressed confusion about the process.

In measures meant to support gender and racial diversity groups, the Council voted to sponsor the United Nation’s HeForShe campaign and to express solidarity with members of the Harvard community affected by recent death threats sent to undergraduates, many of whom are female and of Asian descent.

Representatives amended legislation to both criticize the University for what they wrote was a “delayed response from administrators,” while at the same time expressing regret that the Council itself had not responded promptly to the threats. The Harvard University Police Department ultimately concluded those emails posed no threat.

The Council also passed legislation approving the Student Initiative Committee’s budget and passed another wave of general grants totaling about $9,400.

—Staff writer Noah J. Delwiche can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @ndelwiche.

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