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UC Begins Debate Over Student Organization Comp Processes

The Undergraduate Council considered legislation Sunday to gather data from the Office of Student Life about the requirements students must complete in order to join organizations.

Satire V and On Harvard Time protest the Undergraduate Council
Members of Satire V and On Harvard Time stage a BYOB, or “bring your own berries,” protest of the Harvard Undergraduate Council. Members of the two comedy groups demanded transparency from the “berry-ocracy” and blamed the UC for the disappearance of Amelia Earhart.
During Sunday’s UC meeting—the final one of the academic year—representatives debated the requirements, commonly referred to as clubs’ “comp” processes, and whether the Council should have oversight over such processes.

“For a lot of people, comping processes are incredibly stressful. There are a lot of processes that aren't necessarily equitable,” UC Finance Committee Chair William A. Greenlaw ’17 said. “If we’re interested in creating a dialogue about why there are requirements and if those requirements are just or necessary, then initiating a call for information is definitely warranted.”

Mather House representative Yehong Zhu ’18 suggested that the Council work to create a student evaluation system for club comp processes, akin to the Q guide that students currently use to evaluate courses and instructors.

“This is clearly an issue that is close to people's hearts and that everyone experiences,” UC Student Life Committee Chair Berkeley Brown ’18, who co-sponsored the legislation with Greenlaw, said. “We want to institute a way to learn more about comp processes.”

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Representatives raised questions about what constituted a fair comp process; for instance, some representatives questioned whether considering a student’s GPA when determining club membership was permissible.

“There has to be a… line between academics and extracurriculars,” Elm Yard Representative Evan M. Bonsall ’19 said.

Other representatives cautioned the Council against trying to exert 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,” UC Parliamentarian Cameron K. Khansarinia ’18 said.

Brown said she wanted to collect information from both student organizations and from students who participated in comp processes to better understand membership requirements before making a decision on how to move forward.

The Council ultimately voted to table the legislation, with UC President Shaiba Rather ’17 saying that “this is something we'll definitely talk about more in the fall when we come back to campus.”

The UC also passed legislation to allocate $750 of the Council’s Crazy Ideas Fund—used recently to fund Club 1636—to provide free coffee to students outside of Lamont Library every weekday night this week between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m.

Crimson Yard Representative Nicholas Whittaker ’19, who sponsored the legislation, said he hoped the UC could serve between 100 and 150 cups per night.

Some representatives argued that the bill was not the best use of Council funds, noting that students can get coffee for free in dining halls or purchase it in Lamont Cafe with BoardPlus. Ultimately, 31 representatives voted in favor of the legislation, and 7 voted against it.

The Council also passed legislation from the Freshman Class Committee to allocate $1,600 to purchase four Xbox One game consoles and controllers for freshman dorms. Bonsall pointed to results from a survey of the freshman class indicating that between 75 and 94 percent of freshmen would want video game systems in dorm common rooms.

Earlier in the meeting, students from Satire V and On Harvard Time staged a satirical protest against the Council, interrupting Rather’s presidential updates to put forth a sole demand: “Don’t be bad.”

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

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