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Six Tickets Campaign to Head New Student Government — Including Four Featuring Ex-UC’ers

More than half of the candidates in the first-ever Harvard Undergraduate Association presidential election previously served on the now-defunct Undergraduate Council.

The now-defunct Harvard Undergraduate Council formerly met in the Harvard's Smith Campus Center.
The now-defunct Harvard Undergraduate Council formerly met in the Harvard's Smith Campus Center. By Caleb D. Schwartz
By J. Sellers Hill, Crimson Staff Writer

Six pairs of candidates have unveiled campaigns to lead Harvard College’s newly-adopted student government, the Harvard Undergraduate Association, in its inaugural year.

The HUA was established last month after undergraduates voted overwhelmingly to dissolve the College’s 40-year-old Undergraduate Council in favor of the new structure, which will be led by two co-presidents.

Although four of the six tickets feature former UC representatives, many candidates cited their desire to distance the new body from the now-defunct Council, which at times was marred by division and infighting.

“We actually need a breath of fresh air among the candidates,” said former UC Representative Zachary J. Lech ’24, a Crimson Arts editor who is running with student government newcomer Maria F. De Los Santos ’24. “We are hoping to, for the first time, have a student government that works.”

Former UC Treasurer Kimani E. Panthier ’24 and former UC Pforzheimer House Representative Lisa R. Mathew ’24 expressed a similar desire to move away from the UC’s fraught past.

“We believe that we need a competent government that will lead us forward, not backward,” Panthier said.

Still, the pair underscored what they saw as a need for experience in the new administration.

“This is a really critical moment in Harvard’s future and its history,” Panthier said. “We need competent individuals who have a proven record of getting things done for students. Lisa and I have done that in our time.”

Ian M. Espy ’23 and Ishan A. Bhatt ’23, who are running a satirical campaign calling for the HUA to establish an “H-Coin” cryptocurrency, poked fun at last month’s referendum results and a survey by the Harvard Political Review that reported student approval of the UC to be around 9 percent.

“We really wish there was a poll or referendum of some kind that would give us an idea on their popularity – too bad!” the ticket wrote in a joint statement.

Harvard’s lackluster social scene was also a hot topic among candidates. Nearly every platform involves a plan to support new social activities at the College.

Former Lowell House Representative LyLena D. Estabine ’24 and Winthrop House Representative Travis Allen Johnson ’24 said they hope to work with House Committees to hold more block parties, while former Adams House Representative Esther J. Xiang ’23 and former Mather House Representative Yousuf Amiel Bakshi ’23 pledged to create an “HUA Party Fund.”

Jeremy J. Rasmussen ’24 and William R. Scheibler ’23, who are also running as a ticket in the race, did not respond to an inquiry about their campaign.

This week’s election also includes races for Treasurer, Social Life Officer, Extracurricular Officer, Academic Officer, Residential Life Officer, Well-Being Officer, and Sports Officer. Positions will be elected via a school-wide, ranked choice ballot, set to open Wednesday.

The HUA will include fewer elected members than the UC, which was made up of representatives from every undergraduate house and freshman yard. The body’s co-presidents will oversee the seven officers, who will each coordinate work on a specific issue.

The HUA Election Commission released the inaugural slate of candidates in an email to undergraduates on Friday evening. The full list of candidates is below:

—Staff writer Mert Geyiktepe contributed reporting.

—Staff writer J. Sellers Hill can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @SellersHill.

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