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Harvard Undergraduate Association Convenes for Quiet Inaugural Meeting

LyLena D. Estabine ’24 was sworn in as co-president of the Harvard Undergraduate Association on Saturday.
LyLena D. Estabine ’24 was sworn in as co-president of the Harvard Undergraduate Association on Saturday. By J. Sellers Hill
By Mert Geyiktepe and J. Sellers Hill, Crimson Staff Writers

The Harvard Undergraduate Association convened for its first-ever general meeting Saturday to inaugurate its officers, including co-presidents LyLena D. Estabine ’24 and Travis Allen Johnson ’24.

The HUA was established last year after its predecessor, the Harvard Undergraduate Council, was dissolved in a school-wide referendum. The inaugural meeting — convened for less than an hour on the second floor of Harvard’s Smith Campus Center — represented a clear departure from the UC’s history of theatrics.

Whereas the UC’s inaugural meetings typically drew crowds of curious freshman onlookers, the HUA failed to draw the same turnout — or interpersonal drama.

Scattered study groups nearly outnumbered meeting attendees. Background murmurs from problem-setting students accented the officers’ presentations.

Harvard Undergraduate Association Co-President LyLena D. Estabine ’24 speaks at the organization's inaugural meeting on Saturday.
Harvard Undergraduate Association Co-President LyLena D. Estabine ’24 speaks at the organization's inaugural meeting on Saturday. By J. Sellers Hill

Throughout her inaugural address, Estabine, who drew criticism this week for her public defense of a previously sanctioned campus Christian group, cited her faith as a source of inspiration for public service.

Johnson underscored the Association’s infancy and its mandate to revitalize student government at Harvard.

“I want to use this as an opportunity to encourage everyone to embrace change and recognize the historic opportunities we have today to make a difference here on campus,” Johnson said. “Today is our chance to really create a fresh start.”

Travis Allen Johnson ’24 speaks at the inaugural meeting of the Harvard Undergraduate Association on Sept. 10.
Travis Allen Johnson ’24 speaks at the inaugural meeting of the Harvard Undergraduate Association on Sept. 10. By J. Sellers Hill

Residential Life Officer David Y. Zhang ’23 presented the Association’s execution of the longtime summer storage program. Zhang stressed its affordability for students but also expressed concern about the program’s scalability, suggesting the Association could limit the initiative to fewer students or work with multiple moving companies in future iterations.

Later in the meeting, Estabine solicited support for a new HUA initiative to revitalize Declaration Day — the day on which undergraduates declare their concentrations — through the HUA Academics team.

The HUA will continue to convene for a weekly general meeting on Saturdays, while individual committees will meet on independent schedules throughout the week.

—Staff writer Mert Geyiktepe can be reached at mert.geyiktepe@thecrimson.com.

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

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Travis Allen Johnson ’24LyLena D. Estabine ’24