My Faults My Own

One's ponens is another's tollens.

Notes from the UC Crossfire Debate

This is not a faithful transcript of the questions or answers, since I can't actually type that fast. Instead, it's mostly loose paraphrase throughout. Again, I did not grab all of the rhetoric or issues that candidates nodded to, and most of this is not direct quotation. Nevertheless, it'll give you a bit more of a sense of what candidates' talked about than will the Crimson article you can expect tomorrow.


Opening Statements

Nick / Jeff

We were both disenchanted with Harvard as a whole...but then we realized how lucky we are, and how many things are wrong at Harvard. We can do better as a community, and we can do better as a whole.

Our platform stands on:

  • Mental Health
  • Sexual Assault
  • Social Spaces
  • Issues surrounding Varsity Athletics

Shaiba / Danny

Opening Harvard includes making truly inclusive social spaces, putting students in high-level administrative decisions, and re-imagining the first-year experience.

  • Social Spaces
  • Sexual Assault & Mental Health
  • First-Year Life

Will / Will

People complain about social spaces, put on a band-aid solution it, and forget about it. People complain about sexual assault, put on a band-aid solution it, and forget about it. People complain about mental health when we hear that someone hurt themselves, but then we just put on a band-aid solution it, and forget about it. It's time to do something about these issues.

  • Social Spaces
  • Sexual Assault
  • Mental Health

Policy Proposals: Sexual Assault

Nick / Jeff

Sexual assault: Mandatory beginning-of-year OSAPR/DAPA training.

Social spaces: Expedited party forms, allowing you to register parties 30min ahead of time.

Shaiba / Danny

Shifting the sexual assault dialogue from reactionary to preventative.

It's important that the administration adopts an affirmative consent policy.

Will / Will

Sexual assault & awareness: In the first month, introduce to a series of guidelines for them to follow in their parties. Specifically, making clear in advance, and on printed posters who is in charge, who to go to for help. Will2: I'm in Sigma Chi; we've instituted these ideas, and have gotten a lot of positive feedback. Will1: We want the UC grants process to reward groups that follow through on these issues.


Policy Proposals: Social Spaces

Will / Will

If Harvard believes in social spaces, they should open the dining halls to groups organizing events. Re: freshmen events, let's organize concerts and events in the Yard! Close the gates, bring in Black Tie Affair and the Intrinsics, and have a great time!

Shaiba / Danny

It's not about buying new spaces on this campus; it's about prioritizing the spaces we have. Repurpose the $30k on the UC to "build social events on this campus"!

Nick / Jeff

There are spaces on this campus, but there's no access there. Wet the SOCH! [crowd applauds]


"Assess Ava and Dhruv's Presidency"

Nick / Jeff

I'd like to thank Ava and Dhruv for their service; big round of applause for them. First, thanks for the Omni app. As far as pushing for social spaces, they've done a great job -- Blank party, and just framing this as a social issue. "Ten, twenty years down, when Harvard has a bumping social scene, they'll be the ones remembered for it."

Shaiba / Danny

Their commitment to the student body is unparalleled. On social spaces, on sexual assault, they've been on the front of the issues. But a year later, the issues are different; an app is important, but advocacy is important, too. And we now need to bring the administration to the table on important issues.

Will / Will

In previous years, we've been on the other side of the administration, fighting them on every issue. Ava and Dhruv have done a good job working with the administration. But there need to be steps for the UC and the student body to work together. The UC does a lot, but often folks don't do a good job communicating what they've done for the student body.


Policy proposals: Ticket specific

Shaiba / Danny

One of your ideas is to elect a student to the Board of Overseers, who you claim sets policy on the final clubs and sexual assault. You'd have to change the charter of the University to put a student on it. Is this a thing you can do?

Final club policy was laid down in a letter from the Board of Overseers -- the Crimson published members of the Fox confirming it, even if Khurna and Faust won't.

Sexual assault policy is being decided by alumni who graduated Harvard before women went here, and that's wrong.

Nick / Jeff

How do you expect to lead the UC if you have no experience leading your peers?

There isn't a ticket here that's been on the UC for more than a year. We're going to have a steep learning curve, but so would anyone else. We've got the raw materials -- grit, passion, and enthusiasm -- to be the best UC presidency you'll ever see!

[ed: They're certainly trying to channel Sam&Gus.]

Shaiba / Danny

Do you support putting students on the Ad Board for non-academic issues?

Absolutely.

Will / Will

Given [Will2's] membership in Sigma Chi, and how the administration has come down hard on single-sex social organizations, would you push against that?

The administration has come down hard on single-sex organizations, and I think that this is largely a good thing. But what I also want to see is the University working with social groups on campus to make them accessible to the student body.

I've talked with people in other groups -- and some of them would not have been able to survive the pressures of Harvard without their brothers and sisters, and that's important.

Nick / Jeff

What are the most important issues facing Harvard students today?

We to see real change. We want hot breakfast in every neighborhood; longer night hours for dining halls in every neighborhood; fewer classes 3pm-6pm, so athletes don't need to choose between Ec, Gov, and Psych. And this isn't just an athlete issue -- who doesn't want hot breakfast?


Quick responses

One referendum that didn't make the ticket would have restricted membership in all-male final clubs. How would you have voted on it?

Nick / Jeff

We would have voted no; the University shouldn't focus on scapegoating the final clubs

Shaiba / Danny

We vote no; it's not just about the final clubs. It's about changing the narratives, and changing the spaces we do have.

Will / Will

We would have voted no, and we tend to agree with the other tickets. In real life, we break up monopolies by diversifying the markets. Give students access to the spaces we already have!


Should the college continue not recognizing them, though?

Nick / Jeff

Yes, the University should recognize those institutions. Their members are our brothers and sisters on campus. Part of college is meeting people who are different from you -- the only way you become the best you can be is if you meet a diverse group of people from a diverse background.

Shaiba / Danny

The University should recognize them. This is a man's world [heckler: says the only woman up there!] There should be safe spaces where women can collect and discuss the fact that this is a man's world!

Will / Will

The way we should move forward is, the University should acknowledge them as a first step in the conversation. Students in sororities, students in female final clubs are too often ignored in this conversation.


Should undergrads have mandatory Title IX training every year?

Will / Will

...yes?

Issues of sexual assault seem to be the only thing we're not talking about on a regular basis on this campus.

Shaiba / Danny

You can't just start a conversation at the beginning of freshman year, and expect students to continue it on their own.

Nick / Jeff

This is an issue that all three platforms agree on. We believe in annual training by OSAPR and DAPA, as we laid out in our platform


Crossfire

Will^2 -> Nick/Jeff

We haven't heard anything about your plans for mental health. What do you plan to do on that issue?

We propose that MHS psychologists meet with every student on this campus every year to inform them about options available to them. Mandatory meetings between entryways and psychologists can tell students: People are using these resources, and getting over mental health obstacles is an important part of being the best you that you can be.

Nick/Jeff -> Shaiba/Danny

We challenge you to a round of water pong, one cup v. one cup!

(Two misses from each side) Nick: But this is the sort of fun we want to bring to everyone on this campus. Also, we'd probably all be better at pong if there were more social spaces on campus.

Shaiba/Danny -> Will^2

I'm a Room 13 counselor, and I think that one of the best things about our workshops is that everyone there wants to be there. What does it mean that your plan is to to pay groups to come to these workshops?

You'll find that the workshop you've mentioned was the only one that happened this year. When it comes to investing in your group against investing as social justice, all of us as student groups have dropped the ball. We need to push groups to do the right thing.

Will^2 -> Shaiba/Danny

Y'all make promises about making strict guidelines on final clubs. What does it mean that you're coming at them confrontationally, rather than cooperatively?

It's important that we have important demographic information on final clubs, to see if there is a diversity problem there. How many gay students are each of the final clubs, please?

Shaiba/Danny -> Nick/Jeff

What is the largest problem facing students today?

There are institutional obstacles stopping students from becoming the best they can be. Our platform is getting rid of those obstacles for all people.

Nick/Jeff -> Will^2

We challenge you to a push-up contest!

Will G.: 49

Jeff: 80


Questions from the audience

The UC recently fast-tracked the referendum to turn Pusey library to a social space. How do you plan to get upperclassmen on board?

Nick/Jeff

We want a building that's just a student space. The Smith center is a messed-up, confusing space, and maybe Pusey library is the right space

Shaiba/Danny

We are the only platform with a third of our platform dedicated to freshmen.

Will/Will

Pusey sounds great, but it's a very long term thing. We can deliver to you immediately: mobilize the Yard on a regular basis to throw inclusive events. Freshmen feel like zoo animals in the Yard; let's turn the Yard into a space for us, even if it's just for a few weekends.


What is the largest problems facing Harvard students today?

Nick/Jeff

Institutional obstacles. I've got a teammate here who can't be an English concentrator because classes conflict with practices.

We have rampant sexual assault on our campus. We have an administration that students don't feel safe going to for help!


Ava: Being UC pres and vice pres, you really don't have a work-life balance. I know that you're all really involved with your extracurriculars, how do you plan to balance this job with them?

Will / Will

This campus deserves a full-time president; nothing else would come first. We've already talked to folks about handing off my responsibilities to other people, and we'd absolutely do it.

Shaiba / Danny

The UC's been my time priority since I stepped on. / Room 13, SAA[ed:?] -- I joined these organizations to talk about mental health, to talk about sexual assault -- and my friends there would be happy to see me step up to the UC presidency to talk about those issues there.

Nick / Jeff

This is the biggest thing we asked ourselves before we decided to run. We've looked at our schedule, and we think that we can commit 100% of our energy to being UC president and vice president; as for our other activities -- well, we'll just budget our time better.


At other schools, we've seen sit-ins and protests on racial issues. Why not here?

Nick / Jeff

Why hasn't it spread to Harvard? It's been at Harvard. It hasn't boiled over yet, but we need to be addressing privilege, historical discrimination, and current discrimination now, because this is important to us here.

Shaiba / Danny

It's important to ask this question, because it's a reminder that there are things larger than us, and larger than this campus.

But remember last year, and the response the administration made when we -- Asian women -- were sent death threats by email? The administration took days to respond. We need to demand better.

Will / Will

I'm not satisfied at all. The idea that the protests at Yale and Mizzou started with an email -- that's false. These are deep-seated issues, and we have been talking about them. We had our Black Lives Matter protest here, we had I2M a few years ago. But I think we need students and the administration to express solidarity here -- if the administration is on our side, they need to say it; they really do.


What do you think about the Gen Ed system?

Will / Will

The Gen Ed system is a failure. It's way too beaurocratic, way too vague. I don't see a single requirement for a women and gender studies class; I don't see a requirement for race studies; in Government, you don't see a requirement for students to engage in public service, which is what government is about!

Shaiba / Danny

There are so many classes that should satisfy requirements that don't. Has anyone here taken Social Studies 10? I have a roommate who had to step down five levels in physics to satisfy Science of the Physical Universe. It's been five years, and a failure, and none of the students are surprised why, when students weren't asked in the first place what we wanted out of the system.

Nick / Jeff

The Gen Ed system is beautiful in theory, but really messed up in practice. It's a mess -- a muddle getting things done. We want to give professors more control over what their course is classified as. Give professors independence from this Harvard machine, so they can do their darn jobs.


Closing arguments

Shaiba / Danny

It's about the sentiment behind our platform -- Harvard looks different today. Look at the Crimson's editorial section! Students are talking about these issues, students are frustrated, and maybe they're a bit hopeful. We want to take the front on advocacy. Students want to take the front on advocacy, and we want to take that to the administration!

Will / Will

There hasn't been a lot of talk about mental health, and that disappoints me. We're running to show you that people care.

Nick / Jeff

Tonight, we had a lot of fun, but we've started a real conversation: mental health, social spaces, sexual assault, and issues varsity athletes face. We want to remove the obstacles you face, because you're our brothers and sisters here at Harvard.


ed: Standby for My Faults My Own's endorsement, coming...whenever I get around to writing it.

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