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The Undergraduate Council voted to recommend 43 new student groups for College recognition in a special session Tuesday, though some representatives voiced concerns over conflicts of interest and limited transparency during the recognition process.
The Council’s full body adopted recommendations from its Rules Committee following a 24-hour appeal period. The UC voted on Sunday to allow applicants for student groups to contest their initial recommendation for denial. Of the clubs slated for rejection, four successfully changed their status. Ultimately, the Council recommended 18 proposals for denial on Tuesday.
Now, the College’s Committee on Student Life is expected to “rubber-stamp” the Council’s recommendations at their monthly meeting on Nov. 16.
A few members of the Council said they were concerned about “conflict of interests” after some UC members with links to student organizations under consideration voiced support for their own groups during the closed-door portion of the full body’s meeting.
Winthrop House representative Henry S. Atkins ’20 said he was unsure whether representatives should be allowed to vote on the legislation if they have ties to prospective organizations.
“It would be great if we could have more clarification regarding what constitutes a conflict of interest and whether or not UC members should be voting on this,” Atkins said.
Atkins also questioned what he called a lack of external transparency in the Council’s role in the new student group recognition process, adding the UC should make future meetings of this nature open to the public.
“I think our students should be able to hold us accountable and know exactly why we approved or rejected every student group that we did,” Atkins said.
While UC Vice President Cameron K. Khansarinia ’18 said he would not want Rules Committee members with ties to organizations to deliberate on their own organizations, UC members vote on funding packages that affect groups they are affiliated with on a regular basis.
“We vote on legislation that impacts our other respective student groups all the time and I don't see this being any different,” Khansarinia said.
Evan M. Bonsall ’19, who chairs the UC Rules Committee, said members acknowledged their ties to the prospective organizations.
Bonsall said, however, that no Council members with links to student organizations were involved in formulating the Rules Committee’s recommendations, which the body ultimately adopted without amendments.
“The Council did not change any of the recommendations made by the Rules Committee,” Bonsall said. “Rules Committee was in no way shaped or formed, biased to any degree just because some members of the Council were involved with organizations.”
—Staff writer Andrew J. Zucker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @andrewjzucker.
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