[Crimson] Clarified Rules Yield Three UC Referenda

Kate Sim ’14 and Pearl Bhatnagar ’14, who together spearheaded one of the three referenda on the Undergraduate Council presidential ballot this week, stumbled upon the student referendum procedure by accident. Unaware of this option, the pair had spent much of the semester personally reaching out to dozens of student organizations to push for increased dialogue about sexual assault on campus. But when a UC representative suggested that Sim and Bhatnagar consider a student referendum, they recognized an opportunity to conduct advocacy on a greater scale.

Sim and Bhatnagar’s unfamiliarity with the process is not surprising, given that students last voted on a referendum in 2007, when just over 40 percent of undergraduates voted on—and passed—a proposal to shift winter exams before the break.

In an effort to revitalize the referendum system, the UC revisited the rules and clarified protocol for students in a November meeting. Thanks to the UC’s renewed emphasis, students will be able to vote for three referenda on the presidential ballot until noon Friday.

The three items ask students if they support Harvard’s divestment of funds from the fossil-fuel industry; if they support a reevaluation of Harvard’s sexual-assault policy; and if they support a social-choice fund within Harvard’s endowment.

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