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UC Votes to Reform 'Bridging and Belonging' Fund

Members of the Harvard Undergraduate Council meet in the SOCH on Sunday afternoon to discuss issues and concerns raised by the student body.
Members of the Harvard Undergraduate Council meet in the SOCH on Sunday afternoon to discuss issues and concerns raised by the student body. By Xenia O. Viragh
By Brian P. Yu, Crimson Staff Writer

The Undergraduate Council voted Sunday to rebrand and repurpose its Bridging and Belonging Fund to encourage its use by allowing students and student groups to apply for funding for the first time.

Members of the Harvard Undergraduate Council meet in the SOCH on Sunday afternoon to discuss issues and concerns raised by the student body.
Members of the Harvard Undergraduate Council meet in the SOCH on Sunday afternoon to discuss issues and concerns raised by the student body. By Xenia O. Viragh

The Bridging and Belonging Fund, initially established in 2014 under then-UC President Gus A. Mayopolous ’15 and Vice President Sietse K. Goffard ’15, allocated $30,000 for student groups to work in collaboration to organize events, though student groups did not themselves apply for funding under the program. The UC’s Finance Committee and Office of Student life both fund half of the program’s costs.

“It was looking to bring different groups on campus together to throw events that they traditionally wouldn’t,” UC President Shaiba Rather ’17 said.

The Bridging and Belonging Fund has been historically underutilized, Rather and Vice President Daniel V. Banks ’17 said. Only $1,646.45 of the fund has been used in the 2015-2016 fiscal year, and only $3,600 was used in the 2014-2015 fiscal year.

Under the rebranded program, the UC President and Vice President will negotiate with the Dean of the College to establish a set of “compelling interests” each year, which the UC as a whole must confirm with a vote. These interests are intended to be issues that have “captivated student attention, all pursuing issues affecting the State of the College,” according to the legislation.

Now, groups of students, regardless of whether they are College-recognized, will be eligible to apply for funding under the program for events that align with one of the interests, with preference given to events that are collaborative across multiple student groups.

The compelling interest priorities for this year have yet to be officially determined, and are expected to be brought before the entire Council next week, according to Rather.

The rebranded program will also feature a new name, logo, and a marketing campaign intended to inform the student body about how to apply for grants under the fund.

“We want to redefine the mission of the fund, we want to re-present it to students, and we really want it to engage with students,” Rather said.

The proposal was sponsored by Rather, Banks, Finance Committee Chair William A. Greenlaw ’17, and Treasurer Samarth Gupta ’18.

Also during the meeting, the UC voted to grant $500 to the Harvard College Computer Society’s Datamatch initiative. The additional funding will go toward “the expansion of number of possible dates and restaurant partnerships within the Datamatch program,” according to the text of the legislation.

The UC also voted to allocate $5,021 to various campus student groups in its first grants package of the semester.

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Tags
Undergraduate CouncilStudent GroupsStudent LifeCollege AdministrationCollege FinanceCollege Life