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The 35th Undergraduate Council got off to a contentious start, as its routine weekly grants pack stirred an intense debate over the Finance Committee’s proposed funding allocations during the body’s first meeting.
This week’s grants pack, proposed by UC Finance Committee Chair William A. Greenlaw ’17, who was absent at Sunday night’s meeting, originally allocated $13,934 to be distributed across more than 30 student organizations. Representatives of student organizations who submitted grant requests for this week were interviewed last Wednesday during the Finance Committee’s weekly meeting.
During the Sunday deliberation, several representatives raised concerns over the legislation’s grant of $2,107.04 to retroactively fund TEDxHarvardCollege’s most recent event. Some representatives raised questions about the group’s worthiness to receive funding.
“Almost 10 percent [of our weekly budget] went to publicity for a TEDx conference that I didn't even know was happening. How can we justify spending almost 10 percent of our weekly budget?” Eliot House representative Taylor D. Marquis ’18 said.
UC Vice President Daniel V. Banks ’17 also pointed out that—when considering whether to grant groups official recognition—the administrators evaluate whether student organizations are “without obligation to any parent organization, national chapter, or charter," according to the College's online handbook.
Dunster House representative Victor C. Agbafe ’19 proposed an amendment to the grants pack which would strike the funding from TEDxHarvardCollege for this week so that the Council could “audit” the funding allocation and reassess the grant later.
“This isn't saying we're not going to fund them,” Agbafe said. “It says: let's take some times, let's deliberate over the merits of us funding this.”
The Council voted to adopt Agbafe’s amendment, and the grants pack with Agbafe’s amendment passed with near unanimous consent.
During the beginning of the meeting, three undergraduate representatives from Harvard’s Student Labor Action Movement presented information to the Council about the University’s recent labor negotiations with Harvard University Dining Services.
Later this week, SLAM will present to the UC’s Rules Committee, after which the committee will determine whether the UC is allowed constitutionally to consider endorsing a potential HUDS strike. If the committee rules that the UC may consider the proposal, then the full Council will vote on the endorsement during a future meeting, according to UC President Shaiba Rather ’17.
Banks also announced that the Council, in partnership with Harvard Student Agencies, will be adding deals for local businesses in Harvard Square to Omni—a mobile application launched last year that currently provides shuttle tracking services and a dining hall menu, among other features.
Rather announced during the meeting that Cabot House representative Cameron K. Khansarinia ’18 will take over as Rules Committee Chair from former Winthrop House representative Daniel R. Levine ’17, and that Cabot House representative Catherine L. Zhang ’19 will serve as the Council’s new Freshman Class Committee Chair.
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