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Harvard Undergraduate Association Approves $2,700 for Pro-Affirmative Action Protest at General Meeting

The Harvard Undergraduate Association meets in the Smith Campus Center.
The Harvard Undergraduate Association meets in the Smith Campus Center. By Allison G. Lee
By J. Sellers Hill, Crimson Staff Writer

Convening for its weekly general meeting Sunday, the Harvard Undergraduate Association voted to allocate $2,700 toward the Harvard Affirmative Action Coalition to support its demonstrations at the Supreme Court later this month.

The allocation was the first to make use of the Association’s new “HUA Helps” grant program, which was established at the same meeting. HAAC plans to hold demonstrations in support of Harvard’s race-conscious admission policies when the Supreme Court hears oral arguments in an anti-affirmative action lawsuit brought against the University later this month.

HUA Co-Presidents LyLena D. Estabine ’24 and Travis Allen Johnson ’24 opened the meeting with updates regarding the Association’s new “Social Life Fund,” which aims to subsidize accessible social events for undergraduates, such as those organized by House Committees.

HUA Social Life Team officer John S. Cooke ’25 encouraged students to apply to the grant even if their event may fall short of the program’s 500-attendee requirement.

“I fully recommend that everyone applies,” Cooke said. “We can work with you to help plan it and hopefully mold it into something that can get huge.”

Finance Team officer Alexander J. Zurovec ’25 announced the body had received $81,628.06 in funding requests from 55 student organizations this month, but was only able to disperse $22,500.

Johnson stressed that, despite receiving its largest-ever budget allocation this year, club funding would remain frugal, citing a large uptick in the number of clubs applying for grants. According to the Extracurriculars Team, the HUA is currently reviewing 59 new student organization applications.

“We always hear from clubs about clubs not getting enough money,” Johnson said at the meeting. “If 59 new student orgs are approved, that's 59 more student orgs that are pulling from that budget.”

Moving into new project proposals, the HUA unanimously voted to adopt a new club onboarding process for the spring that would include sessions and workshops to guide new student organization leaders.

The Well-Being Team also proposed an “HUA Helps” initiative, which would earmark $6,000 of HUA funding to support students “hosting workshops, events, protests, and rallies.” The presentation cited meals and materials such as “posters and megaphones” as potential expenses.

Well-Being Team officer Hana Rehman ’25 said an official set of guidelines around the grant is pending, but all allocations would be approved by an HUA-wide vote at the weekly general meetings. The body adopted the initiative with 13 votes in favor and two members voting “unopposed.”

Immediately after the program was approved, it received its first request.

The Affirmative Action Coalition, a group of Harvard student organization leaders working to support affirmative action at Harvard, requested $2,700 to subsidize meals for a group of 90 students attending demonstrations at the Supreme Court later this month.

HAAC leaders Shruthi S. Kumar ’24, Angie Shin ’23, and David E. Lewis ’24 said the group acquired funding for transportation and lodging through other sources, including the NAACP’s Legal Defense Fund, but meal subsidies had yet to be covered. Estabine and Johnson expressed their support for HAAC’s request before the vote.

HAAC’s funding request passed, with 14 students voting in favor and one student voting against. Kumar, Shin, and Tatum all cast votes in favor.

Under the HUA’s constitution, only Finance Team members are required to recuse themselves from votes in which they have a stake.

Corrections: October 24, 2022:

A previous version of this article incorrectly stated the minimum number of attendees for an event to be subsidized by the Harvard Undergraduate Association's “Social Life Fund” is 700. In fact, it is 500.

A previous version of this article incorrectly listed the members of the Harvard Affirmative Action Coalition who spoke at Sunday's Harvard Undergraduate Association meeting.

—Staff writer J. Sellers Hill can be reached at sellers.hill@thecrimson.com. Follow him on Twitter @SellersHill.

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Student GroupsStudent LifeCollege FinanceFront Middle FeatureHarvard Undergraduate Association