In an effort to gauge the stances of this year’s three Undergraduate Council presidential tickets campus-wide and national politics, a coalition of 28 “activist and identity-based” student organizations created a voter guide for the election.
The guide asks the presidential tickets 18 questions about their support for initiatives like gender-neutral housing for freshmen and more widespread wheelchair accessibility. It also shows their stances on recent Harvard policies, such as the sanctions on unrecognized social organizations—which, starting with the Class of 2021 bar students from holding campus leadership positions and receiving College endorsement for some fellowships—and Harvard’s legal appeal to the National Labor Relations Board’s decision to invalidate a 2016 student unionization election.
Noah R. Wagner '18, a member of the Harvard Trans Task Force—the group that originally crafted the idea for a voter guide—hopes to turn the attention of candidates and voters in the election toward concerns facing marginalized communities.
“This came initially out of conversations with Trans Task Force, which we quickly brought to the...other student groups,” Wagner said. “We felt that discussions around campus politics consistently neglect some of the concerns of marginalized communities and we wanted to change the conversation.”
On all but two of the 18 questions, the three tickets answered affirmatively, differing only on their stances on sanctions against Harvard's unrecognized social organizations and whether or not Harvard should drop its appeal to the NLRB.
Cabot House representative Catherine L. Zhang ’19 and UC Treasurer Nicholas D. Boucher ’19 broke with their two competitors by supporting penalties against single-gender final clubs and Greek organizations. The other two tickets did not support imposing these penalties.
On the issue of Harvard’s graduate student unionization appeal, two tickets—Dunster House representative Victor C. Agbafe ’19 and Kirkland House resident Michael K. Bervell ’19 together with Zhang and Boucher—support calls for Harvard to drop its appeal to the NLRB. Mather House resident Conor Healy ’19 and Kirkland House representative Parth C. Thakker ’18-19 said they will not advocate for Harvard to drop the appeal.
Despite finding a “surprisingly widespread consensus,” Wagner said there is still value in a guide that reflects general agreement between all of the tickets.
“No matter who is elected the next UC president, we are now able to hold them accountable for those commitments, which we think is really valuable,” they said.
The voter guide will be distributed across House email lists. The UC recently agreed to fund $125 to pay for candy and campaign literature at voting booths within the houses. After some difficulties with the voting interface, voting commenced Monday and will end on Nov. 16 at noon.—Staff writer Andrew J. Zucker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @andrewjzucker.