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Undergraduate Council Votes to Fund a Partnership with Meditation App Headspace

Before students left campus due to COVID-19 concerns, the Undergraduate Council met in the Smith Campus Center's Isaacson Room.
Before students left campus due to COVID-19 concerns, the Undergraduate Council met in the Smith Campus Center's Isaacson Room. By Jenny M. Lu
By Sharon Xu, Crimson Staff Writer

Harvard’s Undergraduate Council voted to fund a partnership with meditation app Headspace at its final general meeting of the semester on Sunday.

The new partnership provides a free one-year subscription to Headspace for 1,030 students and offers a 90 percent discount — $7 for the yearly subscription — for all other students.

The legislation states the Council will hold a lottery for the free subscriptions and prioritize students eligible for the Student Events Fund, a program that provides certain students on financial aid with discounted event tickets.

UC treasurer Noah Harris ’22 sponsored the legislation along with Ryan V. Sears ’22, chair of the Health, Safety, and Wellness Committee, and Jenny Y. Gan ’22, chair of the First-Year Class Committee.

“We just wanted the UC to always be looking out for ways to increase the mental health of students and find ways to support students especially during the summer or, if we won’t be back, in the fall,” Harris said. “We see Headspace as a really awesome tool that can meet some of those needs that students are having.”

The Council allocated $7,200 from its budget to fund the partnership.

Gan said the Council is doing its best to share mental health resources with students. She said that, ideally, every student who wanted a counselor from Counseling and Mental Health Services would have access to one, but that some students may not be able to take full advantage of CAMHS resources.

UC members argued that Headspace could potentially fill the need for mental health resources.

“Meditation and mindfulness, which is what Headspace does, has been shown to significantly decrease mental health effects,” Gan said.

Some representatives raised questions about the number of undergraduates who would be interested in a Headspace subscription, as well as the app’s focus on mindfulness and meditation.

Lowell House representative M. Thorwald “Thor” Larson ’21 spoke against the legislation. He said Headspace may not meet the needs of those the partnership aims to help.

Larson contended that a student group on campus devoted to mental health — Student Mental Health Liaisons — want text-based counseling and support groups.

“There is really not widespread enthusiasm for just mindfulness stuff even though some of the members there use Headspace and other apps,” Larson said. “We need to make sure that we are providing things these communities want.”

At Sunday’s meeting, held virtually on Zoom, the Council also voted to submit its recommendations for the recognition status of provisional student organizations. The Council is authorized to make recommendations to the Committee on Student Life, which then makes the final decisions.

Rules Committee chair Carter H. Nakamoto ’21 discussed the details of specific provisional student organizations after the Council moved into an executive session, which is private and off-the-record.

The Council recommended all 33 provisional organizations that interviewed with the Rules Committee to obtain full recognition status.

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

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CollegeUndergraduate CouncilStudent GroupsStudent LifeMental Health