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As it Happened: Harvard Commencement 2023
The Harvard Undergraduate Association gathered for its weekly meeting Sunday, marking the first meeting since new leadership took office this month.
Officers and co-presidents, who were elected by the student body on Feb. 21, discussed goals for their tenure and introduced themselves to attendees during the meeting. The HUA — now led by Co-Presidents John S. Cooke ’25 and Shikoh Misu Hirabayashi ’24 — is entering its second year as the College’s student government after students voted in 2022 to dismantle the previous body, the Undergraduate Council.
Cooke opened the meeting by calling for volunteers to serve under the recently elected officers. He also announced open executive positions, including a communications director and a technological director.
Cooke also said his administration will emphasize the importance of “academic freedom,” especially around secondary fields of study.
“That means double secondaries. That means putting your secondaries on your degree,” Cooke said. “As it stands right now, the secondaries aren’t on your degree when you graduate and we want to have that present.”
Hirabayashi said his and Cooke’s administration will advocate for greater religious and athletic accommodations for students.
“A lot of athletes have really mentioned how they can’t reschedule an exam or they can’t attend a class,” Hirabayashi said. “Same for religious reasons as well, where students email the professor and the professor is very strict about a certain deadline or a certain exam.”
The finance team, led by Co-Treasurers Josh A. Kaplan ’26 and Corbin C. Lubianski ’24, shared plans to streamline the grant application process and work toward a goal of getting the student activities fee covered by financial aid.
While the newly established Inclusion Team has not yet received an allocation from the HUA’s budget, they may draw funds from other teams if deemed necessary, Lubianski said.
Sports Officer May Olibale ’25, who was not present at the meeting, plans to focus on adding written guidelines to the Harvard College Student Handbook about accommodations for athletics-related absences, Cooke said.
Her other goals for the term include adding new physical therapy equipment to training rooms, subsidizing sports-related health care costs for athletes, and investing in additional athletic trainers.
Academic Officer Peter E. Chon ’26 said he aims to facilitate the academic transition from high school to college by expanding the resources available for freshmen in large introductory courses and increasing their pre-professional advising opportunities.
“As a first-year, I have a lot of thoughts about this,” Chon said. “One of them would definitely be having pre-professional advising towards first-years, something similar maybe to the resident tutor system for upperclassmen.”
“Another thing would be that maybe all the department websites can have something like sample course schedules for your concentrations,” he added.
Residential Life Officer Hamza T. Masoud ’26 also discussed his priorities for his tenure, including supplying free hand soap for en suite bathrooms, extending dining hall hours, and expanding halal, kosher, and vegan options.
Masoud said he also hopes to add hot breakfast options to a dining hall located in the Radcliffe Quadrangle. Last semester, nearly 2,000 students advocated for hot breakfast in all upperclassmen houses.
The HUA plans to hold regular meetings Sundays at 5 p.m. in Smith Campus Center’s Riverview Commons room.
—Staff writer Natalie K Bandura can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
—Staff writer Jonah C. Karafiol can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @jonahkarafiol.
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