Meeting online due to a recent uptick in Covid-19 cases among Harvard undergraduates, the Undergraduate Council had a largely amicable session Sunday, funding a variety of initiatives before striking down three bills regarding the school’s Covid-19 restrictions.
In a fast-paced meeting that covered eight pieces of legislation, the Council successfully allocated funding for care packages for Harvard custodial and HUDS workers, club grants, and menstrual products. In a point of contention, the body voted not to consider two proposed resolutions and a referendum related to campus Covid-19 restrictions.
The Council initially appeared to pass a bill to publicize a summer storage program subsidized by the UC, but the proposal turned out to fall short of the constitutional benchmark of 36 votes.
A vote to pass funding for a “Racial Inclusivity & Advocacy Week” was paused because the Council’s Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Committee had not previously voted to allocate its funding for the initiative.
UC Treasurer Kimani Panthier ’24, who sponsored the bill, explained that the DEI committee was not meeting regularly because it had yet to elect a chair, with UC President Michael Y. Cheng ’22 clarifying the delay.
“It has to be a majority vote of the executive board. I have appointed two people that are highly qualified and [the] executive board voted both times to reject them,” said Cheng. “We’re going to try again every time, but that is the situation.”
After the source of funding for the bill was amended, it passed.
The final segment of the meeting featured scattered disagreement surrounding proposed measures to critique Harvard’s response to the pandemic.
The Council declined to consider a bill proposed by Cheng and Ethics and Transparency Caucus Chair Ben Weatherwax ’24 that would establish a campus-wide referendum on the school’s health and safety policies.
Quincy House Representative Patrick I. Adolphus ’22, who ran on a platform of reducing Covid-19 restrictions, proposed two resolutions calling on the UC to release statements urging Harvard administrators to revise Covid policies.
The statements would call on the school to “lift all restrictions on students as soon as possible” and “put forth an official framework with clear metrics as to when restrictions on students are to be tightened, loosened, and eliminated,” respectively.
The Council declined to consider either resolution, but disagreements broke out over Adolphus’ motion to hold roll call votes on both bills.
“i hope that the roll call votes aren’t going to be used for intimidation as we’ve seen with past legislation,” wrote Maple Yard Representative Jada Pierre ’25 via Zoom chat, “i’m honestly concerned for the safety of the people of the council.”
“This isn’t a fear of transparency. I think most of us are proud to publicly vote against a bill that questions mandates to keep at risk students on campus safe,” wrote Oak Yard Representative Laila Nasher ’25, “This [is] all just clearly political games.”
—Staff writer J. Sellers Hill can be reached at email@example.com.