Undergraduate Council Elections FAQ

E-mail jgallen@fas.harvard.edu to register your candidacy!

General Questions

Advocacy and Change: The Student Affairs Committee

The Finance Committee

Election Resources

General Questions

What is the UC?

The UC is Harvard College's student government. We are the largest source of funding and support for student groups on campus. We fund official student groups as well as student-initiated events on campus. We also sponsor a party fund, that helps individuals across campus bring you parties every weekend.

Second, the UC is the primary voice for students on campus. We advocate on behalf of students on issues that matter to undergraduates. We have worked hard to influence major changes at the college including the institution of a 24 hour library, the adjustment of party hours, the overhaul of our course evaluation system, and the coming introduction of co-ed upperclass rooming.

 

Why should I run for UC?

Being a representative is a great way to meet new people, learn a ton about the College and important issues in higher education, get involved in making campus life better, and feel the satisfaction of working to represent and serve others.

 

How many representatives does each dorm get?

Each upperclassmen house elects two representatives. Freshman representatives are chosen by "district," which are groups of dorms. Each district will elect two representatives:

• North Yard: Canaday & Thayer
• South Yard: Apley, Grays, Matthews, Weld
• East Yard: Greenough, Hurlbut, Pennypacker, Wigglesworth
• West Yard: Hollis, Holworthy, Lionel, Mass Hall, Mower, Stoughton, Straus

What is the time commitment?

Meetings for the UC are on Sundays from 7 to 10 pm each week. In addition, you'll serve on one committee, which meets weekly for 2 or 3 hours on a date that is most convenient for everyone involved. It’s a sizable commitment, but the rewards make it worth the effort!

 

What are the responsibilities of a representative?

You are expected to attend all meetings. The first-place finisher (the “delegation chair”) from each district is also responsible for sending out a weekly UC update over his or her district open list(s). Both district representatives need to stay in touch with their constituents, however.

 

What do representatives do, anyway?

That depends on what committee you're on! Most of the UC's work gets done in the Finance Committee (FiCom) and the Student Affairs Committee (SAC) - see below.

 

Do I get to pick which committee I want to serve on?

Each district generally sends one member to each committee, with the first-place finisher getting first pick. The exception is that a re-elected council member can petition to return to his or her former committee in the event of a second-place finish. (This means that a given district might have two members on FiCom, for instance).

Since you don't know how you will place, you should make sure to be familiar with both committees and be ready to discuss both advocacy and grants on the campaign trail.

 

Advocacy and Change: The Student Affairs Committee

How do the UC's advocacy efforts work ?

SAC, as the UC's advocacy arm, strives to make student opinion known and acted upon when it comes to Harvard policy. Sometimes we suggest new policies, like co-ed rooming and more secure identification procedures for maintenance workers. Sometimes we search for new approaches to resolve long-standing student needs, like when the UC finally sealed the deal on Lamont Library last year and on freshman keycard access this year. And when the administration announces a project, we make sure that student input colors the decisions, like for the Lamont Cafe, the Hilles student offices, and the women's center.

The UC is often more successful than ad hoc lobbying groups because our members develop close relationships with key administrators. On top of our numerous informal meetings, we are guaranteed formal monthly meetings with the top deans in the areas of Undergraduate Education, Residential Life, and College Life. Finally, when the UC presents a proposal, it has legitimacy in the eyes of the college because we are elected by the entire student body.

 

What issues do we focus on?

Anything is fair game – we advocate for students in all areas and levels of campus policy. Be imaginative! Most of our efforts tend to fall into the categories of undergraduate education, residential life, or college life. There are three vice chairs of the committee, each specializing in one of these three areas.

 

How can I launch my own SAC project ?

First, you should talk to your constituents to find out their priorities and brainstorm good ideas. Also, the SAC Chair and Vice Chairs may assign some projects of their own based on your interests. The appropriate vice chair will guide you through setting up meetings with officials and set you in the right direction. Then it's up to you to research and devise a plan that you'll pitch first to the UC and then to Harvard. Be creative!

Unlike bills concerning the structure and policies of the UC that come through the Rules Committee or bills from the Finance Committee allocating our funds, SAC bills are resolutions typically aimed at the administration. So your work is not done even after the UC adopts your legislation. The advantage of getting the official UC stamp of approval in the public forum of general meetings is that it gives the campus a chance to participate in shaping the final recommendations, and helps legitimize your proposal.

 

What happens after the bill passes the UC?

The UC does not have the jursidiction to expand library hours on its own, for instance, so your proposal has to get in front of those who have the power. In some instances, your proposal will be considered at a joint meeting of students and administrators, who will make a final decision. In other cases, you just need to talk to one particular administrator who can make the change. Sometimes, months can pass between the initial suggestion and eventual implementation by the college, so don't be discouraged!

 

What kinds of issues should I emphasize in my campaign?

You'll probably only work in-depth on a handful of issues, so don't print up campaign literature listing every problem you can think of! Get into specifics. If you're interested in an obvious issue like cable TV or the price of course materials, odds are that that the UC has tried to tackle it before and come up short for whatever reason. So don't simply promise to extend dining hall hours - look into what was done before (using TheCrimson.com archives and the UC website) and come up with a creative or compelling way to seal the deal.

The most successful candidates have clear visions and interesting ideas, not a laundry list of pledges they can't possibly keep.

To get you thinking, here's some recurring issues:

 

 

 

Finance Committee (FiCom)

What kind of person would be interested in serving on FiCom?

If you're interested in finance and getting real experience managing a $400,000 budget, you would enjoy FiCom. Also consider FiCom if you enjoy meeting with and helping student group leaders and helping to keep the extracurricular scene vibrant at Harvard.

 

What is the FiCom experience like ?

Members of the Finance Committee often point to tangible, immediate results to their work. While SAC advocacy can take months to bear fruit, FiCom members can immediately go ahead and attend events and read publications that they have made possible. With the introduction of upfront funding, FiCom members can provide even more of a vital service to student groups.

 

How should I campaign for FiCom?

FiCom members must exhibit responsible money management. $400,000 may sound like a lot, but money goes quickly to Harvard’s numerous student groups. You can highlight your fiscal attitudes, as well as your vision for what types of groups and events should receive funding. And what are your ideas about funding room parties?

 

Election Resources Click here to read the official rules A note on some further rules. Some important things you need to know immediately:

E-mail Josh Allen to file your candidacy!