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Thursday, December 01, 2005

Haddock/Riley (Question 1)

Below is the Haddock/Riley ticket's response to question 1:

Harvard College’s immense diversity of interest and talent puts the Undergraduate Council in a unique position to build a campus community around the diversified passions of its students. The UC should be a facilitator and collaborator of a rich and meaningful campus life. As a representative body of student needs, the UC should have a strong role in advocating for the changes that students on campus need for vibrant academic, house, extracurricular, and social experiences.

Despite its successes in these ways, we have seen the UC fail at many of its efforts to craft its own social life, particularly when it runs in isolation from the social desires of the general student body. Knowing that a student government should be fostering a community responsive to students, we must ask ourselves what avenues are not merely the most effective in achieving this end but the most sustainably true to our diverse and active community: (more in expanded post)
  • Our Role in a House Community: House Committees are the breeding grounds of localized community on campus, and it is this sort of community that is most easily conduced by Harvard’s infrastructure. Cognizant of this, the UC must commit more funding to HoCos and actively encourage vibrant and diverse house communities.
  • Our Role in a Campus Community: Student groups generate specialized communities and are profoundly important for nearly every undergraduate’s college life. For this reason, we are dedicated to ensuring that student groups should no longer have to face difficult decisions about their programming and activities based on rejected UC grants applications.
  • Our Role in a Social Community: The UC plays a critical role in encouraging casual and safe social activity through funding campus parties. Having fought to expand the party fund both last spring and this fall, we believe that students—and now freshmen in particular—should be encouraged to hold safe and inclusive social activities for their peers.
There is a growing consensus that the UC is institutionally incapable of promising successful campus events. Outside of the practical reasons (evidenced primarily by the $50,000 that has been lost on failed social events in the past year), there is the necessary consideration of utility. That is, students derive more from the money spent from the student activities term-bill fee when they see it delivered through packages to student groups and HoCos than when they see it in large-scale one-time events thrown by an out-of-touch student council.

Social programming has a place on this campus. We believe that concerts and the occasional social events are a fun and useful way to bring the campus together. This sort of large-scale planning should be student-driven, but our Undergraduate Council should not be the ones responsible for planning these events or expending a student activity surcharge better used funding sustainable community activity. As the campus works towards planning a structure for campus events, the UC should be forceful in its own commitment to better funding those bodies that build cohesive communities in houses, student groups, and diverse social events.

With the UC out of central large-scale social programming, our student government would greater opportunity to push for successes in fostering diverse communities that build social spirit on a regular and consistent basis. As importantly, our student government must a more critical look at improving a College in academic, extracurricular, and social opportunities. The UC has a responsibility to reengage the community on issues that matter to students of our community. With diligent and creative leadership, it has proven itself capable of making a meaningful and tangible difference to our campus community.

Please feel free to comment, question, discuss etc. Please limit your posts to 200 words each, though, and remember CC's policy on anonymous comments related to the UC campaigns.


At 3:58 PM, Blogger andrew golis said...

What confuses me about your position on social programming, and what I think Richie was trying to get at last night in one of the questions, is why should the UC collect any money from the students at all if it's just going to give it to their own student groups and houses? What's the point of creating the middle man between those two, why not just let students give that money to whatever student group their in or in house dues? Is the UC necessary to determine for students how to prioritize that money? If so, why?

It seems to me that, if you took the analogy of the American system of government, this would be like having a federal tax simply to distribute money to the states. Is there no need for a national army (campus-wide concerts and events)? If yes, why should we suddenly trust the administration to set student priorities on these things when they've consistently ignored us when it comes to giving us money for bigger/better concerts, building a student center, the curricular review and so many other things?

At 5:57 PM, Blogger katie loncke said...

Your response mentions goals of improving academic, house, extracurricular, and social opportunities, all of which are great, but so far you've focused mostly on the social programming front. What are some of your ideas for improving academic and extracurricular life?

Giving student groups more money is great (if you can come up with it), but how precisely do you envision the UC being, as Voith/Gadgil say, more than a bank? For instance, should the UC also address the self-segregation that often occurs among cultural, ethnic, political, and religious student groups? If not, why not, and if so, why and how? The last paragraph in your answer seems to allude to this function, but I'm wondering whether you've already got concrete ideas for "fostering diverse communities."


At 9:47 PM, Blogger Ben said...

John, I agree with you on just about everything, but I'm wondering if you could elaborate on your ideas for encouraging social events among freshmen. It seems to me that freshmen, who can't rely on a House Committee and are less involved in student groups, would be most affected by a lack of big budget campus-wide events. How do you plan on counteracting this?

At 8:16 PM, Blogger John Haddock said...

Andrew, you raise valid points. I want to make my position on social programming as clear as possible.

The UC needs to fund student groups and HoCos because social community at Harvard is so vital to the undergraduate experience that the money for it must be guaranteed. This way, there is a set source of funding for social life, coming either from parents or from the Financial Aid Office, depending on a family's income.

I am deeply concerned that if all student group and HoCo dues were voluntary, it would discourage low-income students from joining activities and make them self-conscious about participation in extracurriculars. This is a nightmare scenario. Money should never prevent students from enjoying social life—that’s why I’ve proposed expanding the Student Events Fund for box-office tickets.

Students are reluctant to dip into their own pockets. There is a real psychological drawback to forcing students to use their own financial resources for HoCo and student group dues. I’m concerned it would put all social life on campus at risk.

Josh addressed your concerns about my position on campus-wide events in your latest social programming thread.

Thanks for your thoughts and for hosting this discussion! It’s a terrific venue for working these issues out.

At 1:40 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would really like it if you could address Katie's question:

For instance, should the UC also address the self-segregation that often occurs among cultural, ethnic, political, and religious student groups? If not, why not, and if so, why and how? The last paragraph in your answer seems to allude to this function, but I'm wondering whether you've already got concrete ideas for "fostering diverse communities."

thanks so much!

-Jannie Tsuei


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