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Coalition for a Diverse Harvard Endorses Overseers, HAA Candidates

The Board of Overseers sometimes holds meetings in Loeb House.
The Board of Overseers sometimes holds meetings in Loeb House. By Derek G. Xiao
By Kristine E. Guillaume, Crimson Staff Writer

UPDATED: April 2, 2018 at 3:25 p.m.

An alumni coalition focused on increasing diversity at Harvard endorsed five candidates in this year’s Board of Overseers election and five alumni candidates in the race for an elected director position on the board of the Harvard Alumni Association.

The alumni group, Coalition for a Diverse Harvard, formed in 2016 in response to a controversial outsider ticket in that year’s Board of Overseers election. The controversial ticket ran on a platform of abolishing tuition and increasing transparency in the undergraduate admissions process, which they contended may discriminate against Asian-American immigrants. The coalition charged that the ticket’s proposals were antithetical to diversity and chose to endorse five other candidates. The group also endorsed five candidates in last year’s election.

The Board of Overseers, the University’s second-highest governing body, advises the University President on major institutional decisions. Its members serve for six-year terms. Harvard degree holders vote every spring to elect five new members.

This year, out of eight candidates total, the Coalition backed the following five: Geraldine Acuña-Sunshine, Marilyn Holifield, John C. Lechleiter, Yvette Roubideaux, and Diego A. Rodriguez.

In the election for directors to the Harvard Alumni Association’s board, the Coalition backed five out of nine candidates: Sid Espinosa, Rashid Muhammed Yasin ’12, Krishnan Namboodiri Subrahmanian ’03, Natosha Reid Rice ’93, and Bella T. Wong ’82.

On its website, the Coalition wrote the group looks for leaders who will be “proactive in helping Harvard be a more diverse institution.”

The group’s online endorsements specifically mention Roubideaux’s background as “likely” the first Native American candidate and Epinosa’s experience as the first openly gay mayor of Palo Alto.

The Coalition based its endorsements on a questionnaire it circulates each year to candidates, asking them to answer five questions about their stances on affirmative action, ideas for increasing diversity at the University, and professional experience with diversity and inclusion initiatives, among others. Seven of the eight Overseers candidates and all of the HAA candidates completed the survey.

Michael G. Williams ’81, a member of the Coalition, said the group looks for individuals who they think have been “a leader in diversity efforts” and will advocate for diversity at Harvard, based on their responses to the questionnaire.

Williams emphasized the Coalition’s support for affirmative action—a stance against which they measure candidates.

“I think most of the endorsees this year if not all of them, in their responses, clearly expressed support for race-conscious admissions,” he said.

Ballots for the election were sent to Harvard degree holders Sunday. Alumni must return ballots to the Harvard Alumni Association by May 15 in order for their votes to count.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

CORRECTION: April 2, 2018

A previous version of this article incorrectly indicated the Coalition for a Diverse Harvard has endorsed four alumni candidates in the race for an elected director position on the board of the Harvard Alumni Association. In fact, as noted elsewhere correctly in the article, the coalition endorsed five candidates in that race.

—Staff writer Kristine E. Guillaume can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @krisguillaume.

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