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Office of Student Life Audited Student Groups Last Semester

University Hall houses many administrative offices of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
University Hall houses many administrative offices of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
By Andrew J. Zucker, Crimson Staff Writer

Harvard College’s Office of Student Life examined student organizations’ activity last semester ahead of the office’s plan to audit student groups every five years, according to Assistant Dean of Student Life Alexander R. Miller.

Speaking to the Undergraduate Council at the body’s general meeting Sunday night, Miller said he asked his staff at the OSL to review student groups’ practices last semester.

“We were able to do some really kind of digging around who’s active, how long, and what’s going on with those groups,” Miller said.

Miller told the UC members that his office will conduct audits of student groups every five years.

“We will do an audit of all our student groups every five years. That is something that I’ve asked our staff to look at,” he said.

University Hall houses many of the College's administrative offices.
University Hall houses many of the College's administrative offices. By Charles K. Michael

Undergraduate student groups previously had to register themselves with the OSL each year in order to remain recognized by the College. If groups failed to renew this registration, they would be deemed “inactive” by administrators and thus ineligible for certain benefits such as Harvard funding and advising resources.

On Sunday night, the Undergraduate Council amended its constitution and bylaws to give itself the responsibility to recommend the creation of student groups. The move marks a major shift in the process by which student groups join the College.

Miller said the data from the audit revealed a significant portion of student groups end up become “inactive” after launching.

“We have seen turnover within the first two years of the groups. We average around 20 to 30 percent of groups going inactive after one to two years,” Miller said.

Miller’s remarks come weeks after a committee to implement penalties on unrecognized social groups recommended that recognized groups “should be examined” to ensure their inclusivity.

“While these organizations are not addressed specifically in this policy, concerns have been raised about the culture that is created by exclusive practices of currently recognized groups,” the report reads.

The Undergraduate Council leaders previously outlined plans to create a “Q Guide” for student groups’ comp processes, to provide students with information on various groups’ application processes.

—Staff writer Andrew J. Zucker can be reached at andrew.zucker@thecrimson.com. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewJZucker.

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CollegeUndergraduate CouncilStudent GroupsCollege Life