Harvard council may leave Ivy group

After eight years on the Ivy Council, Harvard University’s student government is threatening to withdraw its membership.

Dissatisfied with the Ivy Council’s organization and efficiency, the Harvard University Undergraduate Council recently passed a bill asking the council to make several reforms, many of them involving money. Harvard’s student government then threatened to drop out of the Ivy Council if some of the proposed reforms are not adopted.

The Ivy Council comprises representatives of the student governments of each Ivy League school, and is designed to represent the undergraduate student interests of all eight member schools. Created in 1993, the Ivy Council tries to facilitate communication within the Ivy League through its student government conferences, electronic knowledge exchange and publications.

In the bill, the Harvard University Undergraduate Council expresses its “concern over the Ivy Council’s financial management and reporting and the structure and direction of the Ivy Council.”

Harvard’s student government has proposed that the Ivy Council alter the organization of its conferences. Proposed reforms would have the council submit to each member school a preliminary budget and schedule for each conference at least one month before the conference, alter the format of its conferences to include more productive, relevant sessions and condense the conference schedule to remove excessive free time. In addition, the Harvard plan would have the Ivy Council allow each member school to send a varying number of delegates to each conference, with no minimum number in attendance, and charge registration fees to each member school in proportion to the number of participants that the school sends.

Under the proposed reforms, the Ivy Council would eliminate frivolous expenditures surrounding conferences and use e-mail and other modern technology to cheaply and efficiently facilitate the exchange of information between member schools.

The Ivy Council’s head delegates and executive board met at Columbia University Feb. 3 for the annual winter steering meeting. Stephanie Schmid ’02, Yale’s head delegate to the Ivy Council, said while the council made some changes at the meeting, under the council’s rules it would have to wait before making more.

“We discussed Harvard’s bill as a part of the agenda and made some changes that could be made as a board, but others would have to be made constitutionally,” Schmid said.

Some of the reforms Harvard proposed would have to be made as amendments to the Ivy Council constitution. Such amendments can only be made at the council’s spring conference, which is in April.

“The Harvard bill is a good thing in that it got the Ivy Council to reevaluate [itself] structurally,” Schmid said. “It was unfortunate that it came through the vehicle of one of the council’s being upset.”

At the end of Harvard’s Ivy Council reform bill, Harvard states its conditions for staying in the council.

“If the majority of the Undergraduate Council determines that the Ivy Council has effectively implemented or worked actively toward implementing these conditions, Harvard shall continue its affiliation with the Ivy Council,” the document says. “If not, the Undergraduate Council shall sever its permanent affiliation with the Ivy Council.”

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