The height differential between Yasmin Z. Sachee ’18 and her running mate Cameron K. Khansarinia ’18 may be the first thing that strikes students who visit the website of the pair’s campaign to lead the Undergraduate Council. But place Sachee, the candidate for UC president, on top of Khansarinia’s shoulders—as pictured in one of their promotions—and their rapport becomes clear.
They say they embrace each other’s goofy habits, unique fashion tastes, eccentric personalities, and passions for understanding Harvard College’s complex administrative system. As their campaign slogan puts it, they are interested in “piecing it all together.”
Sachee, a Currier House resident, is the current chair of the UC’s student relations committee and a former UC Secretary. She is serving her third term on the Council. Khansarinia, a Cabot resident currently serving his second term on the Council, is now the chair of the rules committee and was formerly the UC parliamentarian.
Sachee and Khansarinia have worked on many UC projects, such as organizing the first Freshman HUDS Appreciation Day and promoting diversity as gender and race liaisons for the Council. They say, however, that there are still many reforms to be made.
The pair is focusing their campaign on promoting “organic change,” hoping to determine areas of reform through discussions with student groups and to utilize the UC’s resources to support groups in their own efforts.
Sachee and Khansarinia said they have a clear and organized set of tangible proposals that they created by listening to a diverse set of student voices.
“We went to different communities on campus and saw what they wanted,” Khansarinia said.
Through gauging the concerns that various student organizations raised, Sachee and Khansarinia developed their platform, which focuses on three pillars: “arriving," or supporting freshmen; "vibing,” or improving College social life; and "thriving," or enhancing student life generally.
They say the College too often treats students as a monolith and relies too much on blanket policies for different student organizations on campus.
At a debate hosted by The Crimson Friday night, Sachee lambasted the University’s sanctions against members of unrecognized single-gender social organizations, who—starting with next year’s Class of 2021—will be barred from athletic captaincies and College endorsement for top fellowships like the Rhodes and Marshall.
“It’s a one-size-fits-all policy—a policy that is not nuanced, and gets rid of women’s spaces on campus,” she said at the event. Sachee, a member of the all-female Bee Club, added in an interview that she co-wrote a letter condemning the policy when it was announced in May.
“Instead of more town halls, task forces, and conversations that lead nowhere, we need actual change,” Khansarinia said.
The pair said they want to partner with student groups to create more nuanced policies. For instance, they proposed partnering with Harvard Student Agencies to build a textbook accessibility program for all students.
“We want to partner with student groups and students to give every single student a voice,” Sachee said.
In a campaign advertisement, the pair claim to have endorsements from more UC representatives than the other three tickets. Sachee and Khansarinia said they have also been endorsed by more cultural organizations than any other ticket. These groups include the Asian American Association, Association of Black Harvard Women, Harvard Nigerian Students Association, and Harvard College Iranian Association.
Al B. Corvah ’18, a UC representative for Mather and the pair’s campaign manager, described Sachee and Khansarinia as two of the most “composed, reflective, and compassionate members of the UC.”
“This is apparent to me in the ways they can interact with members of the student body,” Corvah said. “Because their personalities are so geared for leadership, I believe they will be accessible and approachable and effectively advocate for the interests of the students.”
Corvah also said he is confident the duo will be able to strike a fine balance between working with the administration and partnering with student groups.
Sachee and Khansarinia continuously said at The Crimson-hosted debate on Friday that partnering with student groups will allow them to accomplish goals in the short term and advocate on behalf of students on issues that they care about.
Sexual assault prevention, mental health resources, and social life are topics that almost all the tickets are focusing on.
According to Sachee, however, what sets her and Khansarinia’s candidacies apart from the other tickets’ is that they will work to partner with student groups and students with different perspectives on campus.
“Change is going to happen in smaller communities, so we really want to bring it back to empowering student groups,” she said.
The pair wants to create a “multicultural cabinet” that will bring together a group of leaders from student cultural organizations to promise them an opportunity to address their issues with the Council and administrators.
Victor C. Agbafe ’19, a UC representative for Dunster, said he supports Sachee and Khansarinia’s campaign and their proposed efforts to partner with student organizations.
“Any time you have a proposal for any of these administrators, for you to sell it to them, they’ve got to see that there’s a vested student interest and what better way to do this than to involve student groups and give them a direct voice,” he said.
In their campaign flyer, Sachee and Khansarinia said as representatives of a group of 6,700 students of different backgrounds, perspectives, and interests, they will emphasize the importance of student involvement.
“We want to empower you and give you a voice so that you guys can tell the UC that this is how we want to get things done,” Sachee said.
Regarding sexual assault, Sachee and Khansarinia said they hope to take actual steps by requiring every undergraduate to take a workshop from the Consent Advocates and Relationship Educators. They said they will work with CARE to make sure that it has enough funding and resources to recruit and train members who can give these workshops.
Sachee said she has already institutionalized the role of a gender inclusivity liaison on the UC to raise awareness about sexual assault, and she said she has reached out to as many women as possible for the position.
“The work Yasmin has already done in more than doubling the number of women on this council not only shows that she’s a great leader, but she wants to empower other women on this campus,” Khansarinia said.
As the only ticket with a section of their platform focused on improving freshman year, Sachee and Khansarinia have specific plans to fund cultural and affinity group bridge programs that welcome freshmen to Harvard.
“We are not presumptuous enough to say that we know what students from... every background want,” Khansarinia said. Instead, he said the duo wants to work with student organizations to facilitate both short-term and long-term goals at a much faster and effective pace.
He added that the UC acts best as a support for student groups across the College.“The great benefit of partnering with student organizations and listening to them and not pretending to know what they want us to do, but actually listening to their voices and acting upon that is that we can take further steps and do what the UC is intended to do, which is advocate,” he said.