Harvard’s Undergraduate Council inaugurated Noah A. Harris ’22 and Jenny Y. Gan ’22 as its incoming president and vice-president during a meeting Sunday.
Dean of Students Katherine G. O’Dair formally inducted Harris and Gan over Zoom. They won the UC presidential election in November, campaigning on a three-pronged platform focusing on diversity and inclusion, student life, and health and wellness.
Harris and Gan each swore to “diligently execute” their new roles and “uphold the ideas, activities, and Constitution” of the Council.
During the meeting, O’Dair invited outgoing UC President and Vice-President James A. Mathew ’21 and Ifeoma “Ify” E. White-Thorpe ’21 to sign “The Harvard Book” when they return to campus for the spring semester. In 2019, then-outgoing president and vice-president Sruthi Palaniappan ’20 and Julia M. Huesa ’20 also signed the book, a collection of writings about the University.
Mathew and White-Thorpe also reflected on their time in office and on the Council during Sunday’s meeting, their last. Each said they were proud of the Council and its accomplishments and stressed that, despite facing the end of their tenure, they were still only a text message away.
After the ceremony, Mathew and White-Thorpe left the Zoom room. The Council then moved to elect new members to the executive positions of secretary and treasurer, re-electing Winthrop House representative Nicholas J. Brennan ’23 and electing Elm Yard representative Edwin “Eddie” B. Jin ’24 to the position of treasurer.
Brennan ran based on his accomplishments as secretary over the last year, including refining the Council’s attendance record and pledging to work to make the Council more efficient. Jin promised to keep a consistent budget for the Council, increase transparency about the Council’s finances, and be more efficient in the disbursement of UC funding.
The Council also considered legislation to create and fund an emergency subsidy for students facing financial struggles related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The legislation was sponsored by Adams House representative Esther J. Xiang ’23. It argued that “current university resources have proven insufficient in meeting many of the urgent needs of Harvard students and their families.”
“I wanted to create this fund because I think it’s so important, more than ever, that we are really advocating for first-generation, low-income students, especially because COVID has hit them more than ever,” Xiang said in an interview Sunday.
While the legislation acknowledged Harvard has a robust financial aid program, it also read “the university is unable to provide financial support for a student’s family members, despite the fact that the well-being and livelihood of one’s family is, of course, inextricably linked to the well-being and livelihood of students.”
The legislation cited that some undergraduates who do not qualify for financial aid are still struggling with lost personal or familial income.
The legislation would direct $25,000 from the Council’s budget toward subsidizing qualifying students’ financial needs. Students would apply for the subsidy through a Qualtrics form and, if accepted, would receive $250 apiece. Members of the Council would then work to accept students based on their demonstrated level of financial need and the specificity of their request.
The legislation — which passed and will run over winter break — will accommodate up to 100 qualifying students. Participating undergraduates will be able to give feedback after it concludes.
—Staff writer Hannah J. Martinez can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @martinezhannahj.
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