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UC Endorses Platform to Elect Younger Alumni to Board of Overseers

UC Meeting
The Undergraduate Council had a weekly meeting on Sunday at the Issacson Room in Smith Campus Center Collaborative Commons.

Harvard’s Undergraduate Council endorsed three of environmental advocacy group Harvard Forward’s campaign points at its meeting Sunday.

Harvard Forward is a group seeking to elect several candidates to Harvard’s Board of Overseers — the University’s second highest governing body — in order to address what it calls the University’s “insufficient response” to climate change, according to its website.

The first point of Harvard Forward’s platform the UC endorsed is to reserve six seats on the Board of Overseers for Harvard alumni who graduated within the last four academic years. As there are 30 alumni on the Board of Overseers, Harvard Forward demands a fifth of the seats be reserved for recent graduates.

The UC also endorsed instituting yearly town halls with the Board of Overseers open to students at all Harvard schools, and allowing the presidents of the UC and Harvard’s Graduate Council to give semesterly presentations to the Board of Overseers.

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“We believe that the Harvard Board of Overseers, in making decisions that directly impact student lives, should be directly informed by those who can best speak to the realities of current student life,” the council’s statement reads.

University spokesperson Jonathan L. Swain declined to comment on the UC’s endorsement.

UC President Sruthi Palaniappan ’20 and Vice President Julia M. Huesa ’20 sponsored the legislation to endorse Harvard Forward’s campaign.

The three points the UC endorsed fall under the Inclusive Governance and Student Voices pillar of Harvard Forward’s campaign. The council did not endorse the campaign’s other pillar — Climate Justice and Responsible Investing — which demands that the University divest its endowment from fossil fuels.

University administrators have long maintained that Harvard’s endowment not be used as a tool to enact social change. Instead, University President Lawrence S. Bacow has argued that Harvard must work with industry players to combat climate change.

The UC also allocated $3,000 to fund transportation for non-emergency visits to medical facilities other than Harvard University Health Services. Students will be able to take ride-share services like Uber and Lyft to off-campus facilities and be reimbursed $40 per round trip for a maximum of eight times per semester, according to the legislation.

Lowell House representative M. Thorwald “Thor” Larson ’21, Adams House representative Alexa C. Jordan ’22, Mather House representative Sanika S. Mahajan ’21, and Leverett House representative Jenny Y. Gan ’22 sponsored the legislation because they believe off-campus healthcare should be more accessible to students, according to Larson.

“[W]e wanted students to get the care they need without worrying about the cost of getting there,” Larson wrote in a press release.

HUHS currently offers taxi vouchers for students who need to travel to other medical facilities, but the legislation calls the current system “slow and unpredictable.”

HUHS spokesperson Michael Perry did not immediately respond to a request for comment Sunday night.

The UC also voted to publicize two surveys in its weekly email. The council will collaborate with Harvard Undergraduates for Environmental Justice to publish the Green Orientation Survey which asks questions about sustainability education on campus. The council will also publicize a survey regarding a College-wide calendar in collaboration with the FAS Office of Communications, according to the legislation.

— Staff writer Kevin R. Chen can be reached at kevin.chen@thecrimson.com. Follow him on Twitter @kchenx.

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