"I don't really have anything to say except thank you guys, love you guys, we should be the ones kneeling to you guys,” Zhang, a Cabot House representative said after learning she and Boucher had won the election Thursday evening. “This really means a lot, and we're really excited.”
Zhang is a Cabot House representative, and Boucher is the UC Treasurer and Mather House representative.
Only 2,074 undergraduates—less than a third of total College students—voted in this year’s election, the lowest turnout rate in at least the last six years. Last year, 3,042 undergraduates cast ballots for the UC presidency and vice presidency, a slight increase over the 2,898 ballots cast in 2015.
Zhang and Boucher faced off against two tickets: Mather House resident Conor Healy ’19 and Kirkland House representative Parth C. Thakker ’18-19, as well as Dunster House representative Victor C. Agbafe ’19 and Kirkland House resident Michael K. Bervell ’19. Presidential and vice presidential candidates Agbafe and Bervell garnered 31 percent of first-choice votes, while Healy and Thakker earned 14 percent.
Zhang and Boucher ran on a platform that endorsed establishing a multicultural center at Harvard and prioritized mental health programs and sexual assault prevention. The duo also pledged to urge Harvard to drop its appeal to the National Labor Relations Board after the NLRB’s decision to invalidate a 2016 student unionization election.
Zhang and Boucher also said they broadly support the College’s penalties on members of single-gender final clubs and Greek organizations, which—starting with the Class of 2021—bar members of these groups from campus leadership positions, athletic team captaincies, and certain fellowships. The other two tickets said they did not support the sanctions.
This year’s election was marked by both voting troubles and an allegation of campaign impropriety. During the voting period, students were at times unable to access the voting portal, according to Estes.
The Election Commission also investigated a charge that Agbafe and Bervell inappropriately obtained student phone numbers in order to target potential voters via text after the duo messaged several College students promoting their candidacy. The Election Commission ultimately unanimously voted against taking action on the allegation, according to Estes.
“Before we even went about doing this, we made sure to call the Election Commission and asked them for their permission and after getting it, that’s when we decided to do it,” Bervell said. “We also talked with some of the Deans at Harvard and they also said that it didn’t run afoul of the rules.”
Zhang and Boucher’s victory marks the fourth year in a row that both the UC president and vice president will assume their roles with previous experience on the Council. The last time a student with no experience on the UC was elected either body president or vice president was in 2013, when Samuel B. Clark ’15 and Gus A. Mayopoulos ’15 won the Council’s election.
This year, student voters considered four referenda, including extending Thanksgiving break, bringing back “Harvard Time,” funding class-wide programming for upperclassmen, and designating physical space towards a multicultural center. All four referenda passed.
The referendum that garnered the most “yes” votes involved extending Thanksgiving break. It received 1852 “yes” votes to 152 “no” votes.
Because all referenda gained support from more than half of the voting population, all four are now considered binding and the UC must write a policy paper about each.
—Staff writer Andrew J. Zucker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @andrewjzucker.