Voting began this week in an election for the 11 student members of the Harvard Cooperative Society's board of directors.
Undergraduates and graduate students at Harvard, MIT, and the Divinity School may choose from among the 23 candidates approved by stockholders until April 27, Coop officials said.
Students received ballots and candidate profiles in the mail earlier this week.
Coop by laws stipulate that at least five percent of the eligible voters at the three schools must cast ballots in order to make the election valid.
The bylaws also dictate that, regardless of the vote count, three candidates from MIT, three from the College and three from Harvard graduate schools be selected for the board.
The student directors will take office July 1 for one-year terms and will determine Coop policy in cooperation with 11 faculty and administrative representatives.
Stockholders screened nominees at their annual meeting last month and selected most of the candidates, said Coop Assistant Manager Haig H. Agababian.
He added that some students whom the stockholders did not select gained approval as candidates by collecting a requisite 100 signatures of eligible voters.
Current student board member Paul S. Kang '84 said major issues the new board will address include tentative plans to expand the Medical School store and open a Kendall Square branch.
"The Coop is the largest store of its kind in the U.S., and it has a unique marketing position" because of its size and central location, Kang added.
He and most of the candidates contacted this week said that, in contrast to previous years, they did not think there are any overriding political issues at stake in the election.
In previous years, Kang explained, some students successfully campaigned on political issues, for example vowing to make the Coop participate in the Nestle boycott. He also said unionization of Coop employees was a major issue.
Past union drives at the Coop failed amid charges of National Labor Relations Act violations.
Several candidates expressed hopes that they would learn about the business world while serving as directors. Others stressed a need to keep the Coop working for the students.
"We shouldn't let the corporation forget it's here to help us, to provide texts and supplies at the lowest possible prices," said candidate Douglas Shooker '85.
Few of the candidates said they-had specific programs. John M. Bader '86 expressed concern over poor planning in the past, citing the persistence of long lines despite the installation of expensive cash registers designed to be more efficient.