University News

UCS discusses potential committee-based initiatives

Council discusses possible student activities fund, comprehensive activities calendar, Facilities app

Senior Staff Writer
Thursday, October 6, 2016

Members of all four committees of the Undergraduate Council for Students met Wednesday evening. Among other issues, committees discussed extending hours for the John Hay Library, providing gender inclusive bathrooms in laboratory buildings and developing a centralized student activities calendar in hopes of elucidating extracurricular options for freshmen.

Members of the Undergraduate Council of Students discussed possible future initiatives, including the creation of an activities fund for low-income students and a consolidated student activities calendar, at the general body meeting Wednesday night. The council brainstormed projects for each of its four committees: Student Activities, Campus Life, Academic Affairs and Student Wellness.

The Student Activities committee is “responsible for categorizing new student groups on campus and making sure that existing student groups are in the right categorizations,” said committee chair Naveen Srinivasan ’19. Student Activities is working to create a fund to allow low-income students to apply for money to pay club dues, Srinivasan said. UCS hopes to complete the project in the next few months, he added.

“A lot of student groups have semester or yearly dues … and some of these dues can be pretty exorbitant,” Srinivasan said. “So we don’t want that fee to be prohibitive for any students. We don’t want any students not being able to participate in something they love doing just because they don’t have the money.”

Funds will be distributed to student groups directly in cash, instead of through the bursar’s office, to avoid problems with taxation, said UCS President Viet Nguyen ’17.

The Student Activities committee wants to create a centralized student activities calendar, an idea that was conceived at the meeting, Srinivasan said. “Essentially, you could go into a calendar online, and you could select your interests,” he added. Students interested in theater, for example, could see all of the theater groups on campus that were having meetings, rehearsals or performances in a given week, he said.

The Student Activities committee also hopes to better publicize to freshmen which clubs have applications due over the summer and to update Bearsync, a site that provides the contact information of club leaders, Srinivasan said.

The Campus Life committee “focuses on housing, dining, sustainability and safety,” said committee chair Kudrat Wadhwa ’19. Suggestions for initiatives included obtaining more efficient hand dryers as well as paper towels in freshman dorms and providing allergen information at campus eateries other than dining halls, she added.

Wadhwa also said that her committee may work to replace plastic utensils in eateries such as Andrews Commons and the Blue Room with bamboo utensils and get more water dispensers installed in residence halls, she added.

During the discussion, several students described having difficulties contacting Facilities Management. The Campus Life committee could create an app to improve communication with Facilities, Nguyen said. “Calling is a hassle for busy college students,” he said. “So how can we streamline that process?”

The Academic Affairs committee “is involved with academics, advising and anything that has to do with the classroom,” said UCS Vice President Tim Ittner ’18. The committee is chaired by Charlotte Merzbacher ’19, he added.

Academic Affairs discussed extending the hours of the John Hay Library and providing gender-inclusive restrooms in laboratory buildings. “At this point, on campus, it’s very hard to be a trans student and a STEM student,” Ittner said. Appointments Chair Gabrielle Alcala ’19 also suggested that Academic Affairs facilitate increased contact between undergraduate DUGs and students who have not yet declared concentrations.

Britt Edelen ’19 chairs the Student Wellness committee, “which focuses on Title IX and CAPS and a little bit of accessibility services,” he said. The committee hopes to improve diversity within CAPS, make Title IX information more available and expand consent training, Edelen added.

Student Wellness should also consider working to provide Title IX training to UCS members so that the council can bring this knowledge to the project of improving Title IX awareness on campus, Alcala said.

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