Harvard’s Undergraduate Council passed legislation Sunday afternoon dedicated towards increasing accountability of the Community Council and the Harvard University Police Department.
The first piece of legislation endorsed the publication of a statement by the Council to push for transparency in the actions taken by the Community Council. It was sponsored by Elm Yard representative Edwin B. “Eddie” Jin ’24 and Crimson Yard representative Shreya P. Nair ’24.
The Community Council is one of the steps that the College has taken to ensure that students living on-campus are abiding by the rules set in a compact that each student signed. It has power to remove students from campus if they are found to violate the compact, which occurred at least once this fall when first-years were sent home due to gatherings held in their dorms.
The statement read that the “highly secretive nature of the Community Council meetings” contributes to the anxiety of students living on-campus.
The UC statement pushed for the Community Council to release anonymized statistics about its actions and details of the meeting process with students who are brought to the Community Council for judgment. It also called on the College to provide support and guidance to students who go through the Community Council process as well as resources for students who are asked to leave campus. Finally, it asked the College to clarify if evicted students are to be reimbursed for room and board costs for the remainder of the semester that they are not on campus.
College spokesperson Rachael Dane said in an email that the Community Council plans to release aggregated statistics once the fall semester concludes.
The legislation argued that students facing eviction are in need of assistance.
“Although students who break the Community Compact merit a measured, proportional, response, those who are asked to leave campus face many high hurdles and challenges when relocating and readjusting,” the statement read. “We urge the DSO to consider the needs of these students in planning for the spring semester.”
The Council also passed legislation establishing an undergraduate task force within the Council to “collect input from student communities, particularly underrepresented communities, and inform the practices of HUPD on campus.” It was sponsored by UC President James A. Mathew ’21 and Vice President Ifeoma E. “Ify” White-Thorpe ’21.
“There is a need to keep campus police accountable and hear from students on campus safety on a regular basis, beyond the current period of chief selection and HUPD external review,” the legislation read. The task force would consist of members of several campus organizations, including affinity groups and political groups.
The legislation builds upon a similar task force established in August, whose purpose was to help inform the HUPD Chief Search Committee after the retirement of former chief Francis D. “Bud” Riley.
University spokesperson Jason A. Newton and HUPD spokesperson Steven G. Catalano did not immediately respond to a request for comment by The Crimson.
The previous task force “has proved valuable as a forum for undergraduate student input and recommendations for HUPD practices,” the legislation read. “The matter of campus policing is especially important to ensure safety and well-being for underrepresented students.”
Both acts passed.
—Staff writer Hannah J. Martinez can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @martinezhannahj.