As it stands, the Undergraduate Council’s $650,000 annual budget does not match the cost of many of its goals. As a result, the UC has expressed a desire to expand partnership programs under its administration, including one with ridesharing app Lyft, umbrella sharing service UmbraCity, and College X Change, a student-developed platform for buying and selling items. These partnerships are intended to benefit students with discounts on services in exchange for access to the student body for the companies.
Though we have often been critical of its fiscal and programmatic policies in the past, we applaud the UC for their strategy of partnering with companies to enhance student life. We believe that trading access to the student body for goods and services that would help students in their everyday lives is, to put it bluntly, a good deal. If adequate resources are not provided in the budget for all of the UC’s goals, it seems wise to exchange advertising and access to students as a resource.
We understand concerns that some students may feel inundated with advertising by the UC’s new partnerships, as advertisements are already a constant presence in their daily lives. However, the benefits these partnerships may bring students — with the potential to improve aspects of student life — is worth the extra advertising.
A partnership with Lyft in particular would be an excellent way for the UC to help students who live in the Quad, who often struggle with the lengthy commute to and from classes and other activities in the Harvard Square area. Students in the Quad often bear the long walk in the pelting rain and over slippery sidewalks. Late at night many students would reasonably feel unsafe walking nearly a mile back home. Cab services are expensive and the shuttle system is notoriously inconsistent. As a result, the UC’s burgeoning partnership with Lyft has the potential to meet an enormous student need.
It’s worth mentioning that the UC’s business oriented solutions may still leave out low-income students. For example, some students may not be able to afford Lyft services, even with a discount. Therefore, it is incumbent upon the University to more systematically and directly address the student challenges the UC is addressing through its partnerships, so that all students regardless of financial means have access to the best campus services. The UC might provide some power for temporary solutions, but ultimately the University must address the structural inconsistencies and shortcomings that have led to problems, like the inequitable Quad-Yard commute.
Nevertheless, until these problems are properly tackled by the University, we hope the UC will continue to leverage the partnership program as a tool for improving student life. Though we’ve often found the UC’s efforts lacking, this program is a step (or a Lyft ride) in the right direction.
This staff editorial solely represents the majority view of The Crimson Editorial Board. It is the product of discussions at regular Editorial Board meetings. In order to ensure the impartiality of our journalism, Crimson editors who choose to opine and vote at these meetings are not involved in the reporting of articles on similar topics.