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UC Debates DoubleTree Labor Dispute, Making Gender-Neutral Housing More Accessible

UC Treasurer Meghamsh Kanuparthy '16, left, Vice-President Sietse K. Goffard, center, and President Gus A. Mayopoulos, right, discuss the Council's work in the past week and introduce new legislation.
UC Treasurer Meghamsh Kanuparthy '16, left, Vice-President Sietse K. Goffard, center, and President Gus A. Mayopoulos, right, discuss the Council's work in the past week and introduce new legislation.
By Noah J. Delwiche, Crimson Staff Writer

UPDATED: March 3, 2014, at 1:00 a.m.

The Undergraduate Council passed legislation relating to a labor dispute between workers and DoubleTree Suites, gender-neutral housing, and the transparency of the UC budget during its general meeting on Sunday.

During the meeting, members from the Student Labor Action Movement group and workers from DoubleTree Suites asked the Council to openly support future efforts to create better working conditions. Although Harvard owns the DoubleTree building, Hilton Hotel Boston runs and manages day-to-day operations.

According to undergraduates from SLAM, DoubleTree workers are planning to boycott the business in an attempt to affect change.

The legislation presented asked the Council to inform UC grant recipients that it would support a boycott and to pressure administrators to support the workers’ requests. The proposal also requested that the UC send a mass email to undergraduates asking them to stop patronizing the hotel if Harvard does not publicly support the demands of the workers by April 1.

UC representatives were not immediately sure whether they had enough information to hand down a decision on the labor dispute or whether it was even within their purview to support the measure.

According to SLAM member Gabriel H. Bayard ’15, University President Drew G. Faust has denied that Harvard has any ties to the management of the hotel. Bayard, however, said he disagreed.

“We know that Harvard has a deep relationship with the DoubleTree hotel,” Bayard said after the meeting.

After an extended question and answer period, followed by an open debate, the UC eventually called the question to vote. The Council added an amendment insisting that the UC would only support a boycott if the majority of DoubleTree workers do so as well. A second amendment clarified language pertaining to the goals of the workers.

Both amendments passed with broad support.

The deliberations, however, prompted disagreement among Council members. Cabot Representative Tyler W. Creamer '16, an inactive Crimson business editor who voted against the measure, said after the meeting that the labor issue is not under the jurisdiction of the UC, though he supports the workers and feels they might deserve more compensation.

“The UC’s purview is mostly to focus on student issues, and I don’t think this counts as a student issue,” Creamer said.

Quinn D. Hatoff  ’15, an inactive Crimson news editor and Kirkland House representative, also urged members to endorse a proposal that would make gender-neutral housing more accessible.

“Our task as a Council is to ensure that all undergraduatesregardless of the actions of the housing godshave equal access to their preferred living arrangements,” Hatoff said.

The measure, which passed with overwhelming support, calls on the Office of Student Life to simplify the process of applying for gender neutral housing. It also requires the President of the UC to send a mass email to students showing the body’s support of the efforts and mandates that members “continue communication with the leaders of the movement.”

The UC later passed the “Financial Transparency Act,” which specifically outlines the Council’s budget and lists procedures for reporting expenses.

Representatives also approved another spring grants pack, which will allocate around $40,000 to various club sport groups.

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

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