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Harvard Undergraduate Association Requests Budget Increase as Club Funding Applications Surpass $1M

The Harvard Undergraduate Association holds regular meetings Sundays at 5 p.m. in Smith Campus Center.
The Harvard Undergraduate Association holds regular meetings Sundays at 5 p.m. in Smith Campus Center. By Sami E. Turner
By Natalie K Bandura, Crimson Staff Writer

The Harvard Undergraduate Association is requesting a significant budget increase from the Dean of Students Office to fund a larger portion of student organizations’ funding requests, the body’s co-treasurer announced at the HUA’s weekly meeting Sunday.

Student organizations collectively requested more than $1 million in funding for the fall semester from the HUA — nearly double the amount requested for the fall semester last year, which totaled around $505,530. Under the current budget, just $180,000 of the HUA’s budget would be available for fall semester club funding requests — a median of $490 per club, per HUA projections.

The HUA plans to request $625,250 in funding from the DSO for the upcoming year, with around 82 percent allocated to club funding, the body’s Finance Team shared in a presentation at the meeting.

While the HUA said it plans to request $625,250, the budget subtotals presented during the meeting in fact sum to $623,250.

Last year, the HUA received $550,000 in funds from the DSO after requesting $682,000. If funding allocation levels are similar this year, a roughly 80 percent median cut would be applied to all student organizations that requested semesterly funding.

HUA Co-Treasurer Corbin C. Lubianski ’24 said that he anticipates that the DSO “likely won’t accommodate” the budget increase request, due to a recent increase in the number of students who did not pay the optional $200 Student Activities Fee upon admission.

According to Lubianski, the Student Activities Fee Allocation Committee reported the SAF fund — a fraction of which is allocated to the HUA by the DSO — is $70,000 smaller this year than last.

“Across the board, we have to do massive cuts,” Lubianski said. “This is the reality that the HUA faces just with how many students are opting out of the SAF fund. I would love to do more.”

Lubianski said the HUA is advocating for expanded financial aid to cover the fee for students from low-income households.

“We want to make sure that it’s covered by financial aid, because we understand that for a lot of low-income people, paying the fee is a big financial loss,” Lubianski said.

During the meeting, Lubianski noted that the HUA’s Finance Team randomly selected and audited 100 organizations who received funding last semester. The audit process included confirming that all receipts met HUA and DSO guidelines, were relevant to the events for which the funding was requested, and added up to the total amount of funding disbursed to the club.

Student organizations that fail an audit will be subject to funding cuts in the following grant cycle, though Lubianski did not disclose whether any clubs failed last semester’s review.

“The HUA is not in the business of penalizing student organizations. We just want to make sure that they are held accountable,” Lubianski said.

Shikoh Misu Hirabayashi '24, left, and John S. Cooke '25 are the current co-presidents of the Harvard Undergraduate Association.
Shikoh Misu Hirabayashi '24, left, and John S. Cooke '25 are the current co-presidents of the Harvard Undergraduate Association. By Courtesy of John Cooke and Shikoh Hirabayashi

In addition to club funding, HUA leaders presented other new initiatives for the fall semester at the meeting.

The HUA’s Well-Being Team — led by Allison M. Hunter ’26 — presented initiatives to reform Harvard’s leave of absence policies and include student representation on the Administrative Board, the College’s disciplinary review committee.

Hunter said the team is aiming to expand the offerings of Harvard’s Counseling and Mental Health Service into new types of therapy, hold forums to discuss mental health stigma, and raise awareness of on-campus mental health resources.

Hamza T. Masoud ’26, the HUA’s Residential Life Team officer, presented long-term goals that include negotiating with College administrators to enroll students in the discounted MBTA pass program, subsidize Blue Bikes, and provide free soap and laundry detergent.

Masoud also shared plans to negotiate with Harvard University Dining Services and the DSO to improve student dining through extending dinner hours and adding a hot breakfast option for students housed in the Quad.

“Last semester, John and I spoke with a director of HUDS, and we advocated for some more vegan options and kosher options in the dining hall, and actually we saw some changes to that this semester,” Masoud said.

The Executive Team, led by HUA Co-Presidents John S. Cooke ’25 and Shikoh Misu Hirabayashi ’24, shared plans to launch regular town halls and office hours to support student organizations, hold an artificial intelligence summit with professors and industry leaders, and host social gatherings with neighboring schools, among other initiatives.

Cooke said the Executive Team also aims to stage a conference to bring together student governments from peer schools in the spring semester.

“We’ll be bringing in other student government leaders from schools like Yale, Princeton, et cetera, all throughout the Ivy League and Ivy Plus, just so that we can best leverage our tools as student government to make sure we’re doing right by our different student bodies,” Cooke said.

—Staff writer Natalie K Bandura can be reached at

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