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HUA Officers Present Earth Week Initiative, Discuss Leave of Absence Policies, Mental Health

The Harvard Undergraduate Association holds its weekly meetings in Smith Campus Center, Harvard's student center.
The Harvard Undergraduate Association holds its weekly meetings in Smith Campus Center, Harvard's student center. By Addison Y. Liu
By Natalie K Bandura, Crimson Staff Writer

Harvard Undergraduate Association officers discussed plans to co-sponsor an “Intersectional Earth Week” in collaboration with the Harvard Climate Coalition at the body’s weekly general meeting Sunday.

Intersectional Earth Week, which will be held between April 17 and 22, aims to teach Harvard College students about sustainability practices and inform them about the different ways diverse groups are affected by climate change, according to HUA Co-President John S. Cooke ’25.

“It’s designed to inform students about how the climate crisis impacts different identities,” Cooke said. “We’re going to be a co-signer on this and we’re going to help them out with any spaces they need to secure and with pubbing their events.”

Other Harvard organizations involved in Intersectional Earth Week are the Harvard Kennedy School’s Institute of Politics, the Phillips Brooks House Association, the Harvard Foundation for Intercultural and Race Relations, and the newly formed Salata Institute for Climate and Sustainability.

The officers also discussed new diversity initiatives, proposed modifications to leave of absence policies, and provided funding updates.

Inclusion Officer Ashley C. Adirika ’26 said she plans to begin holding bimonthly “Reform, Inclusion, Student Needs, and Engagement” chats to invite current students to share suggestions for DEI initiatives.

Adirika said she will also collaborate with other stakeholders on campus to provide guidance to students navigating Harvard’s Financial Aid Office. The assistance would include help with filing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid and the CSS Profile, used for institutional aid. The deadline for Harvard students to renew their financial aid is May 1.

Well-Being Officer Allison M. Hunter ’26 discussed an initiative to adjust the College’s leave of absence policies by granting students greater access to on-campus resources and allowing them full autonomy to choose when to return to campus.

Currently, College leave policies prohibit unenrolled students from participating in campus activities or using most Harvard resources. Students who take a voluntary or involuntary leave for medical reasons must petition the Administrative Board to return to campus, according to the College’s handbook.

“Changing leaves of absence policies is something that is going to be long-term,” Hunter said. “However, I really am interested in starting this process because of what I’ve heard from students who are on leaves of absences.”

Hunter also said she hopes to increase the awareness and availability of campus mental health resources by holding forums about mental health and wellness events on campus and increasing well-being resources and alternatives for Harvard-based therapy.

Social Life Officer Jonathan Haileselassie ’26 presented recently approved allocations of $1,000 in funding to Eleganza, the Woodbridge Spring Formal, and the Harvard Islamic Society Eid Banquet.

The Social Life Fund has roughly $1,326 remaining after the three allocations.

“Each of these events combined, I believe, serve 2,000 plus students, so it’s a large segment of the population,” Haileselassie said. “And they’re also really good at just celebrating our diversity, and making sure that all students from all sorts of identities feel accepted and safe on this campus.”

Another initiative would create opportunities to take a temporary break from campus and academia by providing access to LYFT vouchers after 10 p.m. for students in a seven-mile radius of campus.

—Staff writer Natalie K Bandura can be reached at

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