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Council Votes Against Q Change, Vows Increased Transparency

Undergraduate Council representatives officially censured the recent decision to withhold Q Guide difficulty ratings from students and passed legislation that would require the publication of internal voting and attendance records at the Council's weekly meeting Sunday evening.

The meeting marked the first official Council-wide gathering of the fall semester and featured 44 new Council members who were elected just two weeks ago.

Decisions, Decisions
Sietse K. Goffard '15 and Gus A. Mayopoulos '15 address the UC during the first meeting of the year on Sunday evening. They discussed increasing the UC representatives' accountability, the Q Guide, and grant money procedures.

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Clad in what appears to have become his outfit of choice for Council meetings—a Napoleonic style uniform and sheathed plastic sword—UC President Gus A. Mayopoulos '15 delivered a passionate yet humor-laden speech emphasizing the unique position he believes the UC has this year to influence change as the University implements a new sexual misconduct policy and honor code.

The first piece of legislation, brought to the Council by Quincy resident Brett M. Biebelberg '16, came in response to widespread outrage from undergraduates last year when they learned that the Faculty Council had voted to remove difficulty ratings from the Q Guide.

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The act, which endorsed a position paper written by UC Education Committee Chair Dhruv P. Goyal '16, was eventually passed unanimously after representatives debated the best way to communicate with administrators, who are worried that  students might misuse difficulty ratings.

The position paper asks that the implementation of the change be pushed to fall 2015 because the “decision was poorly communicated.” It also mandates the UC to push for increased transparency and inclusion of student voice in Faculty Council decisions that directly affect undergraduates.

To that end, the UC is asking the Faculty Council to reveal docketed items pertaining to undergraduate education to relevant UC committees within two weeks of a vote, and allow for the inclusion of student voice. Either, if implemented, would mark an unprecedented change to the Faculty Council’s procedures, which are typically left confidential.

UC Treasurer Meghamsh Kanuparthy '16, for his part, did not convey opposition to the act, but emphasized during debate that the demands on the Faculty Council constituted a “large ask."

Responding to a question about whether the UC should advocate for the position of a student representative on the Faculty body, Biebelberg openly acknowledged, “frankly, I don’t see that happening.”

The UC also unanimously passed legislation intended to improve the transparency of the Council itself. The “Council Legislation to Enhance Accountability and Reliability," or CLEAR Act, will make attendance and voting records, in addition to up to three campaign priorities of each UC representative, available on the Council's website.

“It’s very significant because people deserve to know exactly what the UC is up to and how their reps are performing, and it’s especially important that we change the culture of promising big things, but never following up on them,” said Vice President Sietse K. Goffard '15, who called the act “long overdue.”

The UC also passed its first wave of grants for the semester. A formalized budget will be brought before the Council next week, according to Kanuparthy.

Current UC Secretary Stephen A. Turban '17 also formally announced at the meeting that he has stepped down as secretary. In an interview after the meeting, Turban said he wished to pursue other roles on the Council. The secretary and rules committee chair positions, in addition to the Council Parliamentarian role, will be filled in the coming weeks, according to Mayopoulos and Goffard.

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

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