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Cooke and Hirabayashi Elected Harvard Undergraduate Association Co-Presidents

Shikoh Misu Hirabayashi '24, left, and John S. Cooke '25, right, pictured on the steps of Harvard's Widener Library.
Shikoh Misu Hirabayashi '24, left, and John S. Cooke '25, right, pictured on the steps of Harvard's Widener Library. By Addison Y. Liu
By Natalie K Bandura and Jonah C. Karafiol, Crimson Staff Writers

John S. Cooke ’25 and Shikoh Misu Hirabayashi ’24 will serve as the second co-presidents of the Harvard Undergraduate Association, the body’s election commission announced Tuesday.

Cooke and Hirabayashi currently serve as the HUA’s social life officer and academic officer, respectively. Like current HUA Co-Presidents LyLena D. Estabine ’24 and Travis Allen Johnson ’24, Cooke and Hirabayashi previously served as representatives on the Undergraduate Council, the HUA’s recently-dissolved predecessor.

The pair’s first priority is to expand mental health resources for students, Hirabayashi said in an interview following the election results.

“John is an FGLI student, I’m an international, and we really understand the challenges people face, especially when they’re at this entirely new environment,” Hirabayashi said. “We want to set up a lot of support networks that could include mentorship programs, summer programs, as well.”

The pair ran on a promise to “Make Harvard Home,” putting forth plans to improve Harvard’s shuttle system, eradicate pests from student dormitories, and decrease Counseling and Mental Health Service wait times to a maximum of 10 days.

Their campaign also promised to bring back weekly funding of clubs, allow for religious and athletic accommodations for exams and classes, and host weekly parties.

“A lot of the things people were supporting from other campaigns, we also agree with,” Cooke said in an interview. “We’re all for just making Harvard home, and we want to have as many people at the table to help us make those decisions.”

Students cast a total of 1,954 ballots in the election, marking a slight increase from the 1,849 cast in the HUA’s inaugural officer election last spring.

The election was conducted via a College-wide ranked-choice vote, which sees votes tallied in several rounds. In the first round, first-choice votes are summed for each ticket. In each subsequent round, the last-place candidate is eliminated and their votes are reallocated to the next-ranked candidates still remaining.

Cooke and Hirabayashi trailed the ticket of Laila A. Nasher ’25 and Ethan C. Kelly ’25 by 102 votes after the first round of voting before pulling ahead in the third round, eventually earning a total of 1,048 votes to Nasher and Kelly’s 889.

“We’re really here to represent everyone on this campus to make this college more accessible, more fun, and more inclusive as well,” Hirabayashi said, adding that the pair would soon send out links for students to set up conversations with them.

Knowing that the results would be released at 5 p.m., Hirabayashi recounted jumping on a Bluebike and pedaling as fast as he could in the rain to get to Cooke’s dorm in DeWolfe after his class in the Harvard Biological Laboratories.

The pair recorded their live reaction to the results.

Cooke said he felt “overcome with happiness” upon hearing the results. “Me and Shikoh, we’re just pretty much a two-person campaign team and to see us win such a hotly contested election, it was just such a happy feeling,” he said.

Voting in the election ran from Feb. 17 to Feb. 19, after two 24-hour delays to the election timeline. The co-presidential tickets debated on Feb. 12.

Peter E. Chon ’26 will serve as the HUA’s academic officer in the only contested non-presidential officer election. While Josh A. Kaplan ’26 and Corbin C. Lubianski ’24 both ran for treasurer, an amendment passed during the election added a second treasurer position, granting both candidates the role.

The full officer election results can be found below:

In addition to the co-president and officer elections, students voted on amendments to the HUA constitution, which require the approval of two-thirds of voters to pass.

Roughly 75 percent of students voted to re-organize the Well-Being Team into two separate teams — the Well-Being Team and the Inclusion Team.

The Well-Being Team is responsible for “helping students navigate resources on Harvard’s campus regarding emotional, mental, and physical health.” The Inclusion Team focuses on identity-related resources, working with the Office for Gender Equity; the Office for Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging; the Harvard Foundation; and the Accessible Education Office.

One of the other amendments proposed the HUA co-president title be renamed to “co-coordinator.” Only 53 percent of students voted in favor of this change, and it did not pass.

The full results for voting on the amendments proposals can be found below:

—Staff writer Natalie K Bandura can be reached at natalie.bandura@thecrimson.com.

—Staff writer Jonah C. Karafiol can be reached at jonah.karafiol@thecrimson.com. Follow him on Twitter @jonahkarafiol.

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