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UC Finance Committee Ties Funding to Inclusive Comps

By Brian P. Yu, Crimson Staff Writer

Student groups with a membership training or vetting process—commonly known as “comp” processes—that fail to meet the Undergraduate Council Finance Committee’s “comping inclusivity standard” may be ineligible for UC funding, according to a new Finance Committee policy.

The policy, called “The Students Against Needless Comping Exclusivity Act”—the “STANCE Act”—passed unanimously during last week’s Finance Committee meeting and allows students to submit anonymous complaints about a comp process that could lead to a UC-run investigation and potential loss of funding.

UC Finance Committee Chair William A. Greenlaw ’17 said the committee would hold off on enforcing the new policy until the entire Council had an opportunity to discuss it.

Greenlaw, who has been considering ways to address what he characterizes as needlessly exclusive comp processes since at least last semester, said exclusive comps were a “consistent and serious enough” issue that he felt the Finance Committee should act to address it.

“Harvard University is unique in that we are one of the few colleges and universities that requires you to get into Harvard after getting into Harvard,” Greenlaw said in a committee meeting earlier last month. “Almost every single organization that I'm aware of has some sort of comping process.”

“There are few people, I think, that genuinely enjoy the [comp] process. In many ways, it's only a barrier to entry,” he added.

According to the new policy, a comp process is considered “legitimate” if “a student organization’s criteria for determining membership are rationally linked to the function and purpose of that student organization in a non-onerous fashion.”

Greenlaw said such a policy would prevent student group leaders from “requiring people to do some sort of wacky thing to get into [their] organization.”

After receiving a complaint, the Finance Committee may vote to open a “comping inquiry” into an organization if the committee has “reasonable suspicion” that the organization’s comp process is inconsistent with the new “comping inclusivity standard.”

The inquiry, which involves reaching out to the organization in question to gather more information about its comping practices, may result in the committee recommending against providing UC funds to the group. The Council as a whole would have the authority to accept or reject the Finance Committee’s recommendation via majority vote.

Already, Finance Committee rules stipulate that groups are only eligible to receive funding from the Council if they accept membership “from all Harvard College students” and “accept all members who complete the comp process.” However, the Finance Committee previously lacked an enforcement mechanism for the policy.

Student groups that are denied funding due to the new policy may “remedy [their] standing with the Finance Committee” only if they modify, in writing, their rules for membership eligibility, and then notify members of the organization that the change has been made.

Last semester, Greenlaw and Student Life Committee Chair Berkeley Brown ’18 proposed legislation to gather data from the Office of Student Life about comp requirements, but the legislation was ultimately tabled.

At the time, several representatives worried about the Council exerting too much control over student organizations.

“I think that we should not overstep our bounds and tell a particular club what they can or cannot approve people based on,” then-Parliamentarian Cameron K. Khansarinia ’18 said.

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