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Undergraduate Council Discusses Changes to Student Organization Funding Under Executive Session

The Undergraduate Council hold their meetings in the Smith Campus Center.
The Undergraduate Council hold their meetings in the Smith Campus Center. By Caleb D. Schwartz
By Kevin A. Simauchi and Sharon Xu, Crimson Staff Writers

The Harvard Undergraduate Council discussed funding options for student organizations under executive session — a private, off-the-record session of the Council, whose meetings are normally open to the public — at Sunday’s meeting.

Eliot House representative and UC Finance Committee Chair Rukmini “Mini” Ganesh ’22 motioned for the Council to be brought into executive session — where only UC representatives are allowed — twice; once in order to deliver routine committee updates, and again to discuss legislation for funding for student organizations.

According to the meeting’s agenda, during the executive session, the UC discussed a Finance Committee-sponsored act in response to the committee not having enough money in its checking account to cover this semester’s grants. The act would allocate $21,000 from the Burst Pack, which is for discretionary spending purposes, to the Finance Committee.

This would allow the committee access to additional funds for student organizations’ semester grants.

After the meeting, Currier House representative Jack M. Swanson ’22 expressed confusion over why the Council needed to go into executive session twice.

“There is nothing we're going to discuss that should be fully confidential,” Swanson said.

The meeting also established more ties to the campus’s theatre community, unanimously passing a block grant of $9,000 to the Harvard Radcliffe Dramatics Club. The grant, which would be used for productions put on by the HRDC, would come out of the Council’s Burst Pack, which is budgeted at more than $49,000.

Ganesh clarified her reasons for the proposal.

“We normally fund theater out of the Finance Committee, but what we’re trying to do here is to have an expressed line item in our budget for theater like we do for PHBA,” Ganesh said.

The UC also unanimously voted to restructure its Finance Committee. Ganesh and Kirkland House representative Carter H. Nakamoto ’21 co-sponsored the legislation.

Previously, the vice chair and secretary position of the Finance Committee were two separate positions but were functionally treated as a single position. With this new amendment to the bylaws of the Council, the vice chair and secretary were merged into a single position.

“It’s a one person job,” Ganesh said.

The Council also unanimously approved an act to publicize the College X Change program — which UC treasurer Noah Harris ’22 described as “Ebay for students” — to Harvard undergraduates.

The UC continued to promote outreach between the Council and the students through funding caucus events. Last week, the UC unanimously approved legislation that expanded the power of the caucus system.

At Sunday’s meeting, the body also voted to allocate $300 for a “Meet the International Caucus” event and another $300 for a “Meet the Asian American Caucus” event.

Sunday’s meeting was also the first for newly elected representatives, who won seats in last week’s midterm elections.

Elm Yard representative Emilio J. De Leon ’23 expressed excitement over his first meeting.

“I feel like as a representative, I'd be able to really contribute input, and it will be directly heard by the executive board,” De Leon said. “So as you can tell, it was a pretty productive climate, and a lot got done in the two hours that I was here. I really enjoyed it.”

—Staff writer Sharon Xu can be reached at sharon.xu@thecrimson.com.

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