Though progress has been made towards improving the undergraduate social experience over the past twelve months, the College still has many challenges for the coming year. The discourse surrounding final clubs has taken off, moving two clubs to go co-ed and prompting larger discussion about campus social spaces. The development of new University-wide Title IX policies and the troubling results of the University survey have pointed to the need for better sexual assault prevention and procedures on campus. And increasing resources have been put towards confronting the mental health problems still widespread throughout campus.
Each of the three tickets running to be president and vice president of the Undergraduate Council—Shaiba Rather ’17 and Danny V. Banks ’17; William A. Greenlaw ’17 and William F. Morris ’17; Nick E. Gajdzik ’17 and Jeffrey M. Ott ’17—has proposed ways of tackling these issues. We believe that one ticket in particular stands best prepared for the job. We endorse Rather and Banks to take on these challenges in leading the UC for the next year; we believe that they have the necessary experience and vision to succeed in improving our campus.
Together, Rather and Banks, as the current co-chairs of the UC’s Student Initiative Committee respectively, have spearheaded several major projects intended to foster more inclusive social spaces, including this fall’s [BLANK] Party in the Science Center Plaza and the College-wide Halloween party in Annenberg. Banks also planned last March’s Oasis event in the Science Center. These experiences, combined with their terms serving as their house representatives, prepare Rather and Banks to work with the administration on behalf of the undergraduate population.
Moreover, beyond their experience, Rather and Banks present a compelling platform, centered on their catchphrase “Open Harvard.” Their plans aim to open the College’s social spaces by repurposing certain UC funds towards inclusive, collaborative parties, pushing for final clubs to hold open punch and regular open parties, and revamping the Yard to provide a better social scene for freshmen. Perhaps most importantly, they emphasize opening dialogue between students and administrators on a wide range of issues including sexual assault and mental health. Each of these items represents a piece of their vision for a more open and welcome campus.
It is encouraging to see all three UC tickets coalesce around the core issues of social spaces, mental health, and sexual assault. The fact that each ticket attempts to address these topics in their platforms is indicative of their importance to Harvard undergraduates; it is clear that the UC, regardless of leadership, must tackle these issues head-on in the coming year. In addition, the issues facing the College’s varsity athletes and the solutions suggested by Gajdzik and Ott should also be considered seriously by the UC, especially since extending dining hall hours and improving class scheduling to minimize conflicts would be beneficial to other students, as well.
In short, the three tickets all offer valuable insights into the problems facing Harvard undergraduates; each would serve the student body well. Due to their experience on the UC, we believe that Rather and Banks would be the most effective student advocates towards the administration. Their “Open Harvard” plan, incorporating practical and innovative platforms, is the best bet to lead the UC and the College forward.
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New UC Leaders Outline Agenda for SemesterNewly elected Undergraduate Council President Shaiba Rather ’17 and Vice President Daniel V. Banks ’17 said the Council’s goals this semester will include increasing administrative oversight of final clubs and bolstering sexual assault prevention.
In New Initiative, UC Hopes to Create Alternative Social Spaces