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Graduate Council Holds Elections, Discusses DACA Response

By Phelan Yu, Crimson Staff Writer

UPDATED: September 28, 2017 at 2:16 a.m.

The Harvard Graduate Council elected seven students to its executive board Monday evening and discussed ways to respond to President Donald Trump's decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

Dana Rassas, a Kennedy School student, and Payum Noshiravan, an Extension School student, were elected as the body’s Chair for Advocacy and Chair of Events. Nabil B. Arif, Tas Islam, Hanes Roberts, Kelley E. Menjivar Ramirez, and La’Toya P. Jackson were also elected to vice-chair positions.

During her candidacy speech, Rassas, a Palestinian national who worked for the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem, discussed bringing her experiences in “consensus-building” to her role on the Council.

“I worked in a position where I brought different people from different backgrounds to move forward,” Rassas said, “Part of what I think I can do very well is that I channel different opinions and I can get...people and bring them to a table they usually don’t agree to sit at.”

Noshiravan emphasized his prior experience with the Harvard Graduate Council and managing the body’s events.

The council’s representatives are chosen by each of the twelve graduate schools’ student bodies. Each graduate school is permitted one vote on issues before the council. Annual elections for each executive board position are split between the fall and the spring semesters.

During the second half of the meeting, Council President Kevin Tian circulated a draft statement responding to Trump’s recent decision to end DACA, an Obama-era program that provides legal protections and deportation relief to undocumented young people.

“None question the contributions ‘DREAMers’ have made on our campus and none should question the place they deserve to have at this institution,” the statement reads, referring to undocumented minors that would be protected under the proposed Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act, a bill that never passed in the U.S. Congress, but later became to the framework for DACA.

The draft statement, which criticizes the DACA repeal as “unnecessarily harsh,” will likely be voted on before the body’s next meeting in two weeks, according to Tian.

“Anyone can submit a comment or a revision, and we can proceed to an e-vote on the finalized portion,” Tian said, “This is definitely a very early working draft, and is obviously very open to input from all of you.”

“Since we are missing some members of the council [tonight], I would like to have everyone present and signing for this document,” Tian added.

During the meeting, Council members also approved a preliminary $33,000 budget for the coming fiscal year to fund the body’s initiatives and events, including the recurring Masquerade Ball and the “Lectures that Last” series.

—Staff writer Phelan Yu can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @phelanyu.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

CORRECTION: September 28, 2017

A previous version of this story misstated the title of the "Lectures that Last" series.

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