Almost Half of New Harvard Student Organizations Denied Full Recognition


The Committee on Student Life voted to approve 21 and deny 19 student organizations for full recognition by the College in a meeting Thursday.

Newly approved student organizations include the Harvard Undergraduate Symphony Society, the Harvard Open Data Project, and PERIOD at Harvard College, according to Undergraduate Council Vice President Julia M. Huesa ’20.

UC President Sruthi Palaniappan ’20 said in an interview Saturday that one additional student group was “approved with conditions” by the committee, but Palaniappan did not specify the name of that group.

College recognition confers an array of benefits for student groups, including the ability to apply for grant funding, reserve spaces for events, and recruit on Harvard’s campus — benefits denied to unrecognized groups.


For the 19 groups denied full recognition, the UC cited lack of communication and failure to comply with requirements of the approval process as reasons for which groups did not receive the status.

UC Rules Committee chair Michael Cheng ’22 said the UC only denied groups that did not attend a required interview with the UC Rules Committee or violated criteria on the rubric for student organizations, such as not having a faculty advisor or lacking a “clear plan of succession for leadership.”

Huesa said “almost all” of the denied groups did not communicate with the UC throughout the approval process.

“The majority of the groups that were denied either didn't respond to the email, didn't come to the interview, didn't engage with the process whatsoever,” Huesa said.

In making the recent decisions on full recognition of new student groups, Cheng said the UC received each provisional group’s constitution, meeting agendas, bylaws, and procedures for selecting its student leaders and members. The organizations submitted their applications in February and interviewed with the Rules Committee in early March, according to Cheng.

“The bar for approval was pretty much, fulfill a few key requirements, like we weren’t trying to deny clubs,” Cheng said.

The 41 organizations up for potential recognition this term were among 61 groups that applied for provisional status — a one-year trial period — in fall 2017. This is the first iteration of a new process that allows the UC to weigh in on the provisional and full approval of new clubs. The process originated from the College’s efforts to stem the proliferation of new student organizations in spring 2017.

Correction: April 6, 2019

A previous version of this story misstated Michael Cheng's class year.

—Staff writer Sanjana L. Narayanan can be reached at

—Staff writer Samuel W. Zwickel can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @samuel_zwickel.