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Harvard’s Undergraduate Council voted to fund an event to promote student engagement with the Council’s Black Caucus in its first general meeting of the semester Sunday.
The $300 allocation from the UC’s discretionary “Burst Fund” will pay for food and publicity for the “Meet the Black Caucus” event.
UC treasurer Noah Harris ’22 and Ivy Yard representative Chloe E. V. Koulefianou ’23, the new co-chairs of the Black Caucus, said they hope the event will allow undergraduates to meet UC members and discuss concerns or recommendations.
“I’m really hoping to get this off the ground and make it a more regular thing because I feel like right now we’re a little bit disjointed,” Koulefianou said. “I really want for there to be more of a sense of togetherness in the communities.”
The caucus system has been a source of controversy since the Council established it in early 2017. While the UC almost scrapped the system last year, current UC president James A. Mathew ’21 and vice president Ifeoma “Ify” E. White-Thorpe ’21 discussed revamping it during their campaign for Council leadership.
Lowell House representative M. Thorwald “Thor” Larson ’21 proposed an amendment to the legislation that would require event organizers to record the number of attendees.
Larson argued that recording attendance figures would provide transparency and help the Council ensure it funds only well-attended events.
“I would say the UC historically has not kept good records of its events,” Larson said. “This means that we funded a number of things that have had low attendance.”
Eliot House representative Rukmini “Mini” Ganesh ’22 and Crimson Yard representative Yousuf Bakshi ’23 opposed the amendment. Ganesh argued that it would pose an “undue burden” on representatives tasked with tracking attendance figures at the Black Caucus event and future events.
“This sets a precedent for anything moving forward,” Ganesh said.
Mathew and White-Thorpe, who ran on a platform centered on diversity and improving student life on campus, said their proposed Unity Caucus would allow students from outside the UC to collaborate with representatives on projects.
The duo also discussed applications for their executive committee, which advises the UC president and vice president on various aspects of student life.
Prospective members do not have to be Council representatives and can also apply to become project directors. Project directors would carry out specific programs from Mathew and White-Thorpe’s campaign platform.
The UC also unanimously approved legislation that would publicize the faculty nomination form for the Board of First-Year Advisors. The form allows students to nominate professors they would like to see become First-Year Advisors, who support freshmen in their transition to college.
The Council will hold midterm elections next week to fill sixteen vacancies on the body, the largest number of open spots by the time of the February elections since at least 2015.
—Staff writer Sharon Xu can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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