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Harvard Forward Campaign Calls for Increased Representation on Governance Board

Loeb House is located at 17 Quincy Street and was the former home of Harvard Presidents. Today it houses Harvard’s Governing Boards and their administrative offices.
Loeb House is located at 17 Quincy Street and was the former home of Harvard Presidents. Today it houses Harvard’s Governing Boards and their administrative offices. By Kathryn S. Kuhar
By Alexandra A. Chaidez, Crimson Staff Writer

Harvard Forward — a student and alumni group working to bring attention to climate change within Harvard’s governance boards — is backing a slate of candidates for the Board of Overseers on a platform of fossil fuel divestment and ensuring younger alumni are represented on the University’s second highest governing body.

Harvard Forward launched its on-campus campaign Sunday when members sought Undergraduate Council support for its platform. The UC supported the group’s calls to reserve several seats on the Board of Overseers for recent University graduates. The group is backing that platform point by running its own set of candidates who recently graduated from schools across the University.

“We are working to elect 5 candidates to the Board of Overseers to move Harvard toward divesting from fossil fuels, committing more resources to climate-focused initiatives, including recent alumni into our governance, and giving a greater voice to students,” the website reads.

Specifically, the group is calling to elect alumni who have graduated within the path four academic cycles or are on track to graduate the same year they are elected. The proposal recommends reserving three of six seats for alumni from Harvard’s graduate schools and the other three for those who attended the College.

“Greater inclusion of alumni who have recently been students themselves will broaden the range of perspectives present during the Board’s discussions, better informing the Board’s decision-making processes,” the proposal reads.

Harvard Forward declined to comment for this article.

The policy proposal also recommends holding at least three town halls each academic year with members of the Board of Overseers and requiring at least five members of the Board to attend each town hall. It also requests that the Overseers invite members of the Harvard Graduate Council and the UC’s president and vice president to a Board meeting to present on “campus affairs.”

In addition to its governance proposals, the website also urges Harvard to divest completely from fossil fuels, “bolster responsible investment practices,” and dedicate resources to research to fight climate change. The UC did not endorse this provision, but supported the town hall platform point.

University spokesperson Jonathan L. Swain wrote in an emailed statement that the University is “fully committed” to finding solutions to climate change and reducing dependence on fossil fuels.

“As it has done for well over a decade, the University will continue to support its faculty, students and staff as they pursue a range of innovative and ambitious efforts to accelerate the world’s transition to renewable sources of energy and to help mitigate the catastrophic consequences of climate change that are already being realized,” Swain wrote.

Swain also pointed to the University’s Climate Action Plan that committed the school to becoming fossil fuel-neutral by 2026 and fossil fuel-free by 2050. He also noted that Harvard joined Climate Action 100+, a group of investors committed to pushing greenhouse gas emitters to take action on climate change initiatives.

—Staff writer Alexandra A. Chaidez can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @a_achaidez.

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