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Amid More Funding Errors, UC Considers Reading Period Rule Change

Members of the Undergraduate Council’s Finance Committee will push to change the rule prohibiting the body from funding events during reading period, after the regulation generated controversy and caused multiple financial errors in recent weeks.

According to an agreement between the Office of Student Life and the UC, the Finance Committee is not permitted to distribute funds collected from the $75 Student Activities Fee to events that take place “during shopping period, reading period, and finals.” The rule is meant to address the concern that “given unlimited time, people will throw a lot of events and not do work,” UC Finance Committee Chair William A. Greenlaw ’17 said.

Grants From Greenlaw
Finance Committee Chair William A. Greenlaw '17 adjudicates grants to club sports teams at a committee meeting earlier in the semester.

UC representatives are now questioning the rule in response to a current Finance Committee inquiry to determine whether the Bach Society Orchestra, which requested funding for a concert during reading period but did not list the concert date on their grant application, “willfully violated standing grant policy.”

The Finance Committee postponed the inquiry, which was set to take place Wednesday, after failing to reach a quorum at the meeting.

Earlier this month, the Council revoked funding from four clubs that had initially been allocated money for events scheduled during reading period.

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During Wednesday’s Finance Committee meeting, committee members discovered three additional events—all Harvard-Radcliffe Dramatic Club productions—which had mistakenly received a cumulative total of $2,883 for events during Arts First. The festival, which takes place during reading period, celebrates “student and faculty creativity” and is organized by the Office for the Arts.

“Those could all be classified as our mistake,” UC Rules Committee Chair Daniel R. Levine ’17, an inactive Crimson editor, said.

In a fourth case, the committee also erroneously provided $320 in funding to the Harvard Ballet Company for a ballet performance during Arts First, despite the committee's knowledge that the event was scheduled during reading period.

“We had a miscommunication with the treasurer, and accidentally funded them,” Greenlaw wrote in a message.

Several representatives pointed out that student groups in the arts are in a difficult position, given that while the Office for the Arts encourages events to take place during the Arts First festival over reading period, the Office of Student Life funding rules discourage events during that period.

“There's a contradiction that student groups in the arts have to deal with,” Levine said.

Greenlaw proposed that the committee negotiate with the Office of Student Life for a revision of the reading period rule to allow events to receive funding through the first weekend of reading period.

“I don’t like defunding people for reading period,” Greenlaw said. “There’s little disadvantage to [the proposal], because it’s just the weekend.”

“I think it’s to the benefit of the student body if we successfully negotiate an extension for the weekend of reading period,” Greenlaw added.

In an email, Associate Dean of Student Life David R. Friedrich recognized that several end-of-year events take place during reading period, and wrote that “the College’s policy... reserves the ability to restrict events during reading period that may adversely affect students’ ability to study and prepare for exams.”

Pforzheimer House Representative Neel Mehta ’18 said he felt the proposal would be a “reasonable compromise.”

In an interview earlier this month, UC Treasurer Samarth Gupta ’18 said he would be open to considering a change in the reading period rule, though he acknowledged the policy’s value in avoiding “many extracurriculars going on during reading period and finals.”

—Staff writer Brian P. Yu can be reached at brian.yu@thecrimson.com. Follow him on Twitter @brianyu28.

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