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All Five of Harvard Forward Candidates Listed on Board of Overseers Ballot

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 Michelle G. Kurilla and Ruoqi Zhang, Crimson Staff Writers

After a five month campaign, the University announced Tuesday that all five of Harvard Forward’s candidates made it on the annual Board of Overseers election ballot.

Harvard Forward — a student and alumni group working to bring attention to climate change and add recent alumni representation to Harvard’s governance boards — put forward five candidates to sit on the Board of Overseers, the University’s second highest governing body, last fall.

By Feb. 1, each candidate had received more than 4,500 alumni signatures on petitions to get onto the Board of Overseers ballot, according to a Harvard Forward press release. The process requires 2,936 signatures — 1 percent of all eligible voters — to put a candidate on the ballot for the election, which is scheduled to take place from April 1 to May 19.

The University verified and validated petition submissions two weeks after receiving the nomination forms, according to a release from the Harvard Gazette, a University-run publication.

“This year, five candidates, listed below, qualified for the ballot through this process by obtaining a required number of signatures from eligible voters,” the Gazette release read.

Harvard Forward's platform advocates for the University to divest all of its assets from fossil fuels, reserve 20 percent of Board of Overseers seats for recent alumni, and develop more transparent investment guidelines.

Harvard Forward Campaign Manager Danielle Strasburger ’18 said in the group’s Tuesday press release that the candidates' success indicated a desire amongst alumni for Harvard to “become a leader in the fight against climate change.”

“We believe a majority of voters support our platform and want to see the Board address these issues,” Strasburger said.

Harvard Forward’s slate of candidates include John E. Beatty ’11, Lisa Bi Huang, Margaret “Midge” Purce ’17, Dorothy “Thea” L. Sebastian ’08, and Jayson U. Toweh.

Toweh said in the press release that their effort is about enhancing Harvard’s teaching and research on climate.

“Our campaign is also about persuading Harvard to recognize areas of real concern among graduates across all generations and disciplines. It’s about expanding the climate conversation to include issues of economics, public health, and social justice in the university’s investment,” he said.

Beatty said in the press release that the election allows alumni to tell faculty, students, and staff that they believe Harvard must do more to address climate change and make the University more equitable and inclusive.

“We as alumni have a unique chance to ask this great university, our university, to lead in showing what modern, inclusive, sustainable education can be,” Beatty said.

University President Lawrence S. Bacow has previously spoken against divesting the school’s holdings in the fossil fuel industry, advocating instead for engagement with fossil fuel companies to combat the effects of climate change. The University has enacted a Climate Action Plan to become fossil fuel neutral by 2026 and fossil fuel free by 2050.

“While I, like my predecessors, believe that engaging with industry to confront the challenge of climate change is ultimately a sounder and more effective approach for our university, I respect the views of those who think otherwise,” Bacow wrote in a Harvard Magazine article last year. “We may differ on means. But I believe we seek the same ends — a decarbonized future in which life on Earth can flourish for ages to come."

— Staff writer Michelle G. Kurilla can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @MichelleKurilla.

— Staff writer Ruoqi Zhang can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @RuoqiZhang3.

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