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Amid Scheduling Confusion, Undergraduate Council to Hold First General Meeting Sunday

The Harvard Undergraduate Council in the past has held their meetings in the Isaacson Room in the Smith Campus Center. Since the start of the semester, there have been no meetings.
The Harvard Undergraduate Council in the past has held their meetings in the Isaacson Room in the Smith Campus Center. Since the start of the semester, there have been no meetings. By Aiyana G. White
By Sharon Xu, Crimson Staff Writer

Harvard’s Undergraduate Council is scheduled to hold its first general meeting of the semester on Sunday, Feb. 9 — later into the spring semester than in the past few years.

UC representative Alexa C. Jordan ’22 and secretary Nicholas J. Brennan ’23 said they raised questions about the scheduling of the first meeting with newly elected UC president James A. Mathew ’21 and vice president Ifeoma “Ify” E. White-Thorpe ’21.

Jordan said she and her colleagues found the process of scheduling the meeting confusing.

“We were all a little bit confused about what was going on. Of course, we want to back James and Ify on their timeline,” Jordan said. “But, we also are concerned about ensuring that we're able to support the students on campus with our elected positions as well.”

Mathew and White-Thorpe held a meeting with the UC’s executive board on Sunday. The UC executive board consists of the president, vice president, secretary, treasurer, and all committee chairs. UC Finance Committee chair Rukmini “Mini” Ganesh ’22, who attended the executive council meeting, said attendees discussed plans for a general, council-wide meeting, as well as the UC’s overall goals for the semester.

Ganesh said she is looking forward to this semester on the UC, but added that she would like to see more open communication from Mathew and White-Thorpe to the council in the future.

“It would be helpful, I think, if we were informed of things a little bit beforehand sometimes,” Ganesh said. “But, I think there's always a learning curve, and I'm sure that they'll be wonderful once they settle into their roles.”

Mathew and White-Thorpe did not respond to requests for comment.

Some representatives said they want to improve the council’s communication with students and its “legitimacy” in the eyes of the student body.

“We should focus on trying to make sure we’re really connecting with people and having some kind of sense of legitimacy among the students,” UC representative Jack M. Swanson ’22 said.

Jordan said she believes students often do not notice some of the UC’s projects.

“I think that a lot of the student body doesn't completely know — and it's not their fault — all the functions and benefits that the UC provides weekly for, and the services that the UC provides for the students,” Jordan said.

Brennan agreed and said he wants the council to be more responsive to student concerns.

“I think that everybody on the UC tries their hardest to make sure that people are well represented, and that we are hearing the voices of the people, and we're trying to respond to that as best as possible,” Brennan said.

During their campaign, Mathew and White-Thorpe proposed creating a new “Unity Caucus” that would allow students from outside the UC to collaborate with representatives on projects.

UC treasurer Noah Harris ’22, co-chair of the council’s Black Caucus this semester, said he is excited about the possibility of working with other members of the student body.

“We’re going to see if we can bring in different voices than the ones that are normally heard, and then, use those to give students a voice,” Harris said.

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

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