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Undergraduate Council President Catherine L. Zhang ’19 and Vice President Nicholas D. Boucher ’19 voiced optimism for their upcoming year in office in an interview Sunday, reaffirming their focus on issues highlighted in their campaign, including gender-neutral bathrooms, mental health initiatives, and sexual assault prevention.
“We’re so excited about this year because we have so many things that we want to do,” Zhang said.
In their campaign, Zhang and Boucher pledged to work with administrators to expand gender-inclusive housing and gender-neutral bathrooms, and offer the UC as a resource center for sexual assault, mental health, financial, and religious concerns. The duo also said they wanted to represent student voices on controversial campus issues.
More than a month after the Harvard Corporation voted to formally adopt the penalties on single-gender final clubs and Greek organizations, Boucher said he and Zhang are heavily involved in shaping the implementation of the policy, which prevents members of single-gender social groups from serving as captains of varsity athletic teams, holding campus leadership roles, or receiving College endorsements for certain fellowships.
The two said they have met with multiple Office of Student Life administrators, including Dean of Students Katherine G. O’Dair, and said they are attempting to convey student feedback they received during their campaign.
“Right now we have this directive that comes from the top of what the policy will look like from a high level,” Boucher said. “What we don’t have is what it’s going to look like in terms of the specific procedure, the specific logistics of how information will be passed.”
Zhang and Boucher also expressed their “unconditional” support for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and its approximately 800,000 recipients whose temporary legal protections were revoked by President Donald Trump in September. Last week, University President Drew G. Faust sent a letter to Congressional leaders asking for “immediate attention” to secure protections for DACA recipients, several dozen of whom are Harvard students. Lawmakers have yet to reach an agreement on DACA.
The new UC leaders met with Dean of the College Rakesh Khurana late last semester to discuss their campaign proposals and how they intend to follow through on them.
“I think one thing we tried to make clear is that we have a lot we’re going to do this year,” Boucher said. “And I think to administrators at first, it comes off as, ‘You have a lot you want to do this year’ and I think we want to make sure that the message is ‘We have a lot we’re going to do this year.’”
According to Zhang and Boucher, the UC will roll out its new website in the coming weeks. Among other features, the updated site will allow students to track the progress of the duo’s 39 campaign proposals, as part of a push by the Council to increase transparency.
The UC will convene for its first general meeting of the year this Sunday.
—Staff writer Jonah S. Berger can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @jonahberger98.
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