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33 Seniors Jockey for Class Marshal, Decline From Past Years

By Graham W. Bishai and Brandon J. Dixon, Crimson Staff Writers

Thirty-three candidates jockeyed for positions on the Senior Class committee on Monday—a decline from previous years—employing campaign strategies that ranged from Facebook events and semi-personal emails to canvassing in dining halls.

For the past two years, about 50 candidates have vied for eight Senior Class Marshal positions, through which class members help plan events throughout the year and May’s Commencement exercises.

Seniors cast their ballots on Monday in the first round of voting; the second round will begin Wednesday, after the candidate pool is winnowed down to 16 people. The top two candidates from Wednesday’s vote will be crowned First and Second Marshals and the next six as Program Marshals.

Voting did not proceed without incident. According to Leanne C. Gaffney, assistant director of undergraduate engagement at the Harvard Alumni Association, some seniors did not receive the voting link when it was first released Monday morning. Gaffney said HAA reset each senior’s voting link after hearing of the issue.

Some candidates’ platforms touched on key campus issues such as the availability of social spaces and Harvard’s new policy penalizing members of unrecognized single gender social organizations, starting with the Class of 2021, like final clubs and Greek life.

David J. Coletti ’17, who uses the pronoun they, wrote in an email that they believed discourse on the sanctions revolves largely around questions of “inclusivity, safety, and respecting the voices of those who identify with a marginalized group,” and that they intend to tackle this issue if elected.

“The events I want to plan and collaborate on would not be punch events—they would be open to all, regardless of one’s background,” Coletti wrote. “My platform would not isolate those who, because of their personal experiences and identities, feel that they could not contribute or participate in the programs of their class.”

Other platforms were more light-hearted. Sally H. Na ’17 said she “wanted to take time to spend with people,” and so she ran for the position to get to know more members of her class. Na said she specifically intends to host a “multicultural drink tasting night” for seniors should she win.

Candidates took to Facebook and sent emails, both personal and impersonal, in attempts to reach as many classmates as possible to remind them of the election, detail their platforms, and make best impressions before the vote Monday.

Stephen A. Turban ’17, running on a platform of “More small spaces for reflecting outside of Harvard,” said he sent so many Facebook messages in his campaign efforts that the social media site blocked him from sending any more.

Coletti said their campaign strategy prioritized face-to-face conversations with voters in an effort to promote honesty and transparency.

“Senior year can be very, very stressful, so I have been trying to approach this campaign in a manner that respects other people's space and schedule,” Coletti wrote.

Campus jokesters also quickly jumped on the bandwagon. A Facebook page dubbed “President Drew Faust for Class Marshal,” promised the senior class “[a] Class Day speaker who is a civil war historian, a feminist icon, and the President of Harvard University” and a “Larry Summers Dunk Tank.”

Faust did not appear on Monday’s ballot.

—Staff writer Graham W. Bishai can be reached at graham.bishai@thecrimson.com.

—Staff writer Brandon J. Dixon can be reached at brandon.dixon@thecrimson.com. Follow him on Twitter @BrandonJoDixon.

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