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8 Candidate Pairs Campaign to Lead the Harvard Undergraduate Association Amid Controversy

The Harvard Undergraduate Association meets in the Smith Campus Center. Eight pairs of candidates are running to become HUA co-presidents.
The Harvard Undergraduate Association meets in the Smith Campus Center. Eight pairs of candidates are running to become HUA co-presidents. By Addison Y. Liu
By Cam N. Srivastava and William Y. Tan, Crimson Staff Writers

Eight pairs of candidates are vying to become the Harvard Undergraduate Association’s next co-presidents, the HUA Election Commission announced Monday, as the body faces unprecedented turmoil amid efforts to recall both of its current leaders.

The next student body co-presidents will inherit a student government marred by controversy. Undergraduates are expected to vote on a referendum to recall current HUA Co-President John S. Cooke ’25, who could be forced out of his role just weeks before his term ends on April 20.

The HUA Election Commission also approved a petition campaign to remove Cooke’s co-president, Shikoh M. Hirabayashi ’24, on Sunday, although the petition has yet to meet the 391-signature threshold to move forward with a recall election.

The recall effort against Cooke comes after The Crimson reported that he had been expelled from the Fox Club last week over allegations of misconduct, although the nature of the allegations remain unclear. Cooke denied the allegations in a meeting with Fox leadership.

Cooke and Hirabayashi’s successors will be tasked with restoring trust with a student government that many undergraduates considered ineffective and simply a vehicle for politically-ambitious students, even before it descended into a leadership crisis this semester.

The next co-presidents may even have to defend the HUA’s existence entirely, just two years after students voted to dissolve Harvard’s previous student government, the Undergraduate Council. One campaign ticket, led by Lucas Chu ’23-’25 and Trinity A. Dysis ’27, has publicly stated that their goal is to dissolve the organization.

Though the Election Commission originally announced nine candidate pairs, one duo — Nina G. Howe-Goldstein ’25 and Adelaide E. Parker ’26, a Crimson News and Magazine editor — pulled out of the race on Monday, saying their candidacy was an April Fools’ Day joke.

Of the remaining candidates, two pairs include current members of the HUA executive team.

HUA Inclusion Team Officer Ashley C. Adirika ’26 and Social Life Officer Jonathan Haileselassie ’26 termed their campaign “A United Harvard” in the email announcing the candidates.

Their platform includes plans to advocate for free printing and subsidized laundry, authorize an emergency grant fund for student organizations, lead Title IX awareness campaigns, and implement “structural changes” to the HUA constitution.

Siblings Peter E. Chon ’26 and Eunice S. Chon ’25-’26, the HUA’s Academic Team Officer and an academic team member respectively, told students that they are “simps for your autonomy” and want to “Make Harvard Work for You” in the announcement email.

Their campaign promises include instituting a “streamlined Crimson Cash system” to subsidize laundry, ending the College’s academic requirement of four Gened classes, and instituting a new Ethnic Studies concentration.

The candidates also include current Institute of Politics President Pratyush Mallick ’25 and Kevin A. Bokoum ’26, who are running a campaign to “leave the politics to the IOP.”

Mallick and Bokoum said they want to have “representative committees for each class year,” remove the co-presidency title from HUA leadership, “expand Board Plus and Crimson Cash partnerships in the Square,” and create digital IDs to swipe into Harvard buildings.

Multiple pairs declared themselves outsider candidates, promising an array of structural changes to the current student government. The most radical of the bunch are Chu — who circulated the petition for a vote to recall Hirabayashi — and Dysis, who said they hope to “disband the student co-presidency and the HUA for good.”

“No more scandals. No more presidents. No more HUA. Let existing orgs take over and do what they do best,” they wrote in their campaign statement.

Other self-proclaimed “outside candidates” include Hayden A. Brackeen ’27 and Adam N. Chiocco ’27, who pledged greater accountability and transparency for the HUA, and Kya I. Brooks ’25 and Dakota A. Degenhardt ’26, who committed to “increase club funding, recognize student organizations, and have financial aid cover the $200 student activities fee.”

Justin Ji ’26 and Claire C. Swadling ’26 centered their platform around the student experience, emphasizing “the three R’s: HealthieR, HappieR, and KindeR.”

Chase M. Bourbon ’27 and Nathan R. Westbrook ’27 made more far-fetched promises to students, pledging to have “6ix9ine spitting fire at graduation.”

“Ice spice at yard fest? she’s there!” Bourbon and Westbrook added. (A Dean of Students Office administrator told The Crimson in February that despite students’ wishes, the DSO could not afford to invite Ice Spice as the headliner for Yardfest, the College’s annual spring concert).

There are additionally 16 candidates running for nine other elected officer positions on the HUA.

According to the HUA constitution and bylaws, the voting process for this year’s HUA elections will follow an instant runoff, ranked-choice voting system. Campaigning began Monday at 12 p.m., and voting opens on April 3 at midnight and runs until April 5 at 11:59 p.m.

—Staff writer Cam N. Srivastava can be reached at cam.srivastava@thecrimson.com. Follow him on X @camsrivastava.

—Staff writer William Y. Tan can be reached at william.tan@thecrimson.com. Follow him on X @william_y_tan.

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