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Shikoh Hirabayashi Breaks Silence at HUA Meeting as Co-President John Cooke Remains Absent

The Harvard Undergraduate Association meets regularly in the Smith Campus Center on Massachusetts Avenue. HUA Co-President Shikoh M. Hirabayashi '24 broke the group's silence after five days of controversy following the expulsion of Co-President John S. Cooke '25 from the Fox Club last week.
The Harvard Undergraduate Association meets regularly in the Smith Campus Center on Massachusetts Avenue. HUA Co-President Shikoh M. Hirabayashi '24 broke the group's silence after five days of controversy following the expulsion of Co-President John S. Cooke '25 from the Fox Club last week. By Frank S. Zhou
By Cam N. Srivastava and William Y. Tan, Crimson Staff Writers

Harvard Undergraduate Association Co-President John S. Cooke ’25 was conspicuously absent from the HUA’s general meeting on Monday, leaving Shikoh M. Hirabayashi ’24 — the other co-president — to break the group’s silence since Cooke’s expulsion from the Fox Club last week over misconduct allegations.

At the start of the meeting, Hirabayashi delivered a brief statement that did not address the allegations against Cooke or the twin recall efforts to oust both Cooke and Hirabayashi from office just three weeks before their tenure is slated to end.

“At the HUA, we are committed to student safety, and we have been conferring — we have been convening — with relevant parties and have been abiding by the HUA and University policy,” Hirabayashi said.

“I’m here to ensure a seamless transition to the next student government,” he added. “I am here to fulfill my duty to serve the students, and I am also here to support the election process.”

Monday evening’s HUA meeting came after five days of almost nonstop controversy for the HUA co-presidents. Cooke’s expulsion from the Fox Club over misconduct allegations escalated as HUA officers discussed his potential resignation, and ultimately turned into an uproar when a petition to recall him from office received enough signatures to trigger an election.

On Sunday, a similar petition for a vote to remove Hirabayashi from office was approved by the HUA Election Commission, although it is unclear if that petition will reach the required 391 signatures.

But on Monday, Cooke was nowhere to be found. His absence raised questions about his future in student government even as Hirabayashi and the other HUA officers attempted to ignore the elephant in the room and conduct business as usual.

Cooke did not respond to a request for comment Monday evening about his absence.

During the rest of the meeting, the HUA passed funding for numerous student organizations under the Crimson Cohesion Fund.

The HUA Well-Being Team also received an allocation of 300 dollars toward funding food for upperclassmen houses during finals week.

Even as proposals passed like usual, it was hard to ignore the changed dynamic in the room. Cooke, the more outspoken co-president, usually called proposals to a vote and announced when they passed.

This time, it was only Hirabayashi.

—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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