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The Harvard Undergraduate Council elected a new secretary and treasurer and passed legislation to endorse an independent audit of its own finances in an emergency meeting over Zoom Wednesday evening.
The meeting was held to complete agenda items slated for last Sunday’s meeting, which was derailed by accusations of bullying and a prolonged presidential and vice presidential inauguration. Pending legislation from the inaugural meeting carried over into the emergency meeting as well.
Wednesday’s meeting began with the elections for the secretary, treasurer, and the communications chair. UC members made nominations, which were then followed by speeches, questions, and deliberations.
The council voted to elect Pforzheimer House Representative Jane J. Oh ’24 as secretary and Crimson Yard Representative Ethan C. Kelly ’25 as communications chair. The UC reelected Winthrop House Representative Kimani E. Panthier ’24 as treasurer.
After the elections, the UC passed legislation to “start fixing the UC’s financial mismanagement” through an independent audit and financial training.
Last month, campaigns for the UC presidency alleged that the council lost large sums of students’ money and was committing tax fraud by failing to register as a non-profit. The previous president and vice president refuted those accusations.
“There have been serious allegations of the UC mismanaging hundreds of thousands of dollars in students’ fees from the $200 student activities fee,” the legislation reads.
The bill states that the entire UC must “fully cooperate” with an audit of its finances run by Harvard Risk Management and Audit Services. It must also release any requested documents to auditors within 48 hours of a request. Additionally, the results of the audit report will be released directly to students. The UC will also solicit feedback and questions about their finances from students to pass along to the auditors.
The bill also allows Vice President Emmett E. de Kanter ’24 to work with “financial professionals and members of the Economics Department to organize a financial literacy and management training” for all UC members.
It will also give the executives and the finance chair the ability to speak with faculty and staff sponsors about the “possibility” of the UC filing taxes. This comes after the UC made a constitutional amendment to remove the provision which required it to register as a non-profit, clarifying its tax-exempt status under the University.
The legislation was sponsored by UC president Michael Y. Cheng '22 and de Kanter and passed with a vote of 21-0-0.
The UC also passed an act to gauge students’ need for mental health services via a survey which will be released during finals period.
According to the act — sponsored by Cabot House Representatives Brooke L. Livingston ’23 and Damien Z. Chang ’24 and Mather House Representative Shruthi S. Kumar ’24 — the survey will help the UC launch a pilot program with a group therapy company called "/tbh." to address students’ mental health needs.
Noting the long wait times for Harvard’s Counseling and Mental Health Services, the legislation states that the partnership would aim to provide “regular, identity-based group therapy sessions for students.”
—Staff writer Lucas J. Walsh can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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