Undergraduate Council

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Well hello there!

If you’re wondering why I sound so rested and relaxed, it’s because today is officially my second day on Spring Break! I’m writing this blog post from the comfort of my Baltimore living room, where I have been lounging for an excessive amount of time. One of the best things about going to Harvard College is that it’s only a 1.5-hour flight back to the 410. Literally, Friday morning I was waking up in my dorm room, and twenty four hours later I’m hanging out with my parents at home. Ah, Spring Break…

I got home by way of Logan Airport – the airport that’s located just a few miles away from school. Usually, I just take the T there, but if I’m feeling particularly swanky, then I’ll splurge on a cab ride. This time, however, was especially great because of a new Undergraduate Council initiative – the Airport Shuttles! Just in time for this Spring Break season, the Undergraduate Council has now implemented airport shuttles that leave every hour between 4 AM and 7 PM the weekend that Spring Break starts. Now, instead of having to pay $40 for a one-way cab ride, or schlepping my luggage on the T, I was able to pay just $6.50 online to reserve a seat on the shuttle going to the airport. It got us to Logan in twenty minutes flat. Thanks to the shuttle service, I got to the airport, to the Southwest terminal, through security, and to my gate, all with enough time to buy a soft pretzel and the latest People Magazine. So, in case you were wondering, members of the Undergraduate Council, you’ve definitely gotten yourself a new fan in yours truly!

Like I said in my last post, my plans for Spring Break this year are pretty mellow. I’ve got plenty in my Netflix queue and the relatively warmer Baltimore weather to keep me busy, but I’ll let you know if anything exciting happens.

Until then, have a great week!!!


Oh, and PS: did you hear about the Harvard Basketball team? Besides being really tall and collectively really handsome, they’re also in the NCAA tournament this year. GO HARVARD!

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With national elections just finishing, it’s time for the annual elections for President and Vice President of the Undergraduate Council (UC), Harvard College’s student government. Of course, being at this campus, the campaign is run by former student staffers from the Obama and McCain campaigns, so each side has it’s set of students serving as campaign and finance managers, in communications teams, on ground operations, and more.

Like any good political campaign, we started by building up our political base. I’m working on the Ebrahim|Cao campaign, where we’re working on, among other issues, to keep the momentum up on initiatives to improve student social life on campus. Led by Senan ’12 and Bonnie ’12, we built up a platform, worked out a messaging strategy, designed and developed a website, and gathered up students to fill all the positions on the campaign. As required by the UC’s Election Commission, a student-run body setup just to administer the rules for the elections, we gathered hundreds of signatures to get onto the ballot.

Senan '12 and Bonnie '12

Finally, once campaigning started last Monday, we tried to deliver our message to every student on campus. Personal and listserv emails. Yelling with a giant poster near the Science Center. Knocking on nearly every dorm room door in the College. Further, to validate out candidates platforms, we’ve tried to reach out to the wide diversity of student groups on campus. We sit down with the group – often in a debate with the other tickets – and then hope to get an endorsement from their group if they see our ticket as being the most effective way forward for their group and the student body. But regardless of how we push our message, it’s a lot of talking, meeting people, and getting psyched! Everyday through this period, we’re required to submit finance reports on our spending: all elections are funded by the UC  up to $400 minus any fines levied against the campaign for a wide variety of violations like forgetting to include voting information on campaign materials or talking to student groups a few days too early. All three of the tickets running have fines running against us – the Election Commission is strict!

We’ve finally transitioning into the GOTV (“Get out the Vote”) period where we’re emailing all of our friends individually – collectively reaching thousands of people – and getting them to cast their ballots online during the election period ending Thursday. That evening, we’ll all gather in a room and hopefully see the ideal result of our efforts: a personal visit from the Election Commission Chair and Harvard Glee Club.

We’ve got some worthy opponents this year: the Coe|Li and Jones|Davis tickets. The latter pair, running with the 90s-era website http://jonesdaviswinnersof2010ucelection.info/ and slogan “Until we Run Out of Money, or Get Removed from Office,” has offered a campaign centered on direct democracy; they already held a vote on what to do with the remaining $20.10 of their campaign funds. The student body’s decision? Buy a small animal. They actually did it, buying a Cuban Tree Frog. Some have called them the “joke ticket” running for humor rather than votes. I’ll just call them inspiring.

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