During its first meeting of the semester, the Undergraduate Council unanimously passed an interim budget for the 2016-2017 academic year, allocating more than $500,000 to various Council committees and initiatives including the new Grant for an Open Harvard College.
The new budget—a total similar to last year—sets aside $15,000 for the grant, which is a program established last spring by UC President Shaiba Rather ’17 and UC Vice President Daniel V. Banks ’17. The grant funds campus initiatives that focus on one or more of the Council’s four “compelling interests”: mental health, race relations, sexual assault and harassment, and social spaces.
The Student Initiatives Fund, which was used to fund several campus events last year, will receive $10,000 this year under the interim budget, down from $15,000 last year. Meanwhile, the Student Relations Fund, which is used for publicity campaigns and for connecting the Council with the student body at large, will receive $1,500 this year, down from $5,100 last year.
UC Treasurer Samarth Gupta ’18 said the funding cuts were necessary because last year’s UC budget allocations depended upon unused rollover funding from previous years. Gupta called this funding source “unsustainable,” because future Councils may not always receive the same amount in rollover funding.
For the first time, the Council also officially allocated $25,000 to an “Emergency Fund.” Gupta said the fund was meant for unexpected situations for which the Council might need funding.
Similar to last year’s budget, this year’s budget allocates $325,000 for grants to student organizations given out by the UC’s Finance Committee, as well as $10,000 for the UC’s Freshman Class Committee.
During the meeting, Rather and Banks emphasized their fall semester plans to focus on addressing concerns about campus social life. Rather said several of the UC initiatives put in place last year—including April’s pre-Yardfest neighborhood block parties—will become “consistent yearly event[s] under the domain of the College.”
Rather and Banks also praised the second installment of the Council’s Club 1636 initiative to host events geared at providing alternative social spaces for undergraduates. The most recent event took place Sunday night at Felipe’s Taqueria in Harvard Square.
“We had between 650 and 700 people come to Felipe’s,” Banks said. “You saw people from all across the College… come to the event.”
During the meeting, Rather noted that the declaration period for undergraduates to apply to run for open seats on the UC begins Tuesday, while the campaigning and voting period will begin on Sept. 12.
Three seats each are open in Quincy, Leverett, Mather, Dunster, Eliot, Cabot, and Kirkland House; two seats each are open in Pforzheimer, Winthrop, and Currier House; and one seat each is open in Dudley, Adams, and Lowell House. Three seats are open for each of the four freshmen yards—Oak Yard, Crimson Yard, Ivy Yard, and Elm Yard.
The newly elected representatives will have the opportunity to make amendments to the budget in later UC meetings.
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