Students Pass Two Amendments to Harvard Undergraduate Association Constitution


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Students Pass Two Amendments to Harvard Undergraduate Association Constitution

The Harvard Undergraduate Association meets weekly at Riverview Commons in the Smith Campus Center.
The Harvard Undergraduate Association meets weekly at Riverview Commons in the Smith Campus Center. By Selorna A. Ackuayi
By Jonah C. Karafiol, Crimson Staff Writer

Students voted in favor of both constitutional amendments put forward in the Harvard Undergraduate Association’s fall referendum, according to an emailed announcement Sunday.

The amendments will move the student organization funding request deadline until 10 to 14 days after classes start and delay HUA elections to exactly two weeks after the end of spring break. Just 478 students participated in the referendum — roughly 6.4 percent of undergraduates. Amendments require two-thirds of voters in favor in order to pass.

Of the voters, 83 percent voted to push the semesterly club funding deadline. The previous constitution mandated that clubs submit funding requests in August for the fall semester and in December for the spring semester, with approvals occurring at the end of September and January, respectively.

Students also voted to host HUA elections exactly two weeks after the end of spring break, with 83 percent of referendum participants voting in favor. According to the email, officers’ terms will start and end on April 20 each year.

Last year, elections began on Feb. 17 and closed two days later, and elected officers were sworn in by the end of March. A later start date will allow for “outgoing officers to facilitate a transition and shadowing period between elections and the start of the new term,” according to the email. The amendment will go into effect beginning this spring.

Ahead of the close of voting, some HUA Academic Team members criticized the second amendment, describing it as an “abuse of power” intended to extend the tenure of sitting officers. These members — Academic Team Officer Peter E. Chon ’26 and Academic Project Leader Eunice S. Chon ’26 — also alleged that the language of the referendum question was changed following a vote by HUA officers.

HUA Co-Presidents Shikoh Misu Hirabayashi ’24 and John S. Cooke ’25 have denied the allegations, claiming that the referendum correctly adhered to all administrative procedures.

Students also had the opportunity to share their opinions on subsidized MBTA passes and undergraduate participation on the Harvard Board of Overseers — the University’s second-highest governing body.

New Board of Overseers members are elected each spring by Harvard degree holders. Presently, board members must be University alumni, but 84 percent of students voted in favor of adding undergraduate positions to the board.

Students were also asked if they would use the MBTA more frequently if passes were less expensive. One-way MBTA tickets cost $2.40, but Harvard students can receive an 11 percent discount by purchasing a semester pass on the MBTA’s website. Of the respondents, 86 percent said they would use the MBTA more frequently if fares were cheaper. Three-fourths of student voters reported spending less than $30 per month on MBTA fares.

The referendum also asked students to vote on potential names — John, Remy, and Trottie — for an unofficial Harvard turkey mascot, an initiative spearheaded by the HUA.

The HUA did not release results of the turkey-naming vote, but they discussed updates on the initiative — dubbed Operation Turkey — at the body’s weekly meeting Sunday. Project leaders confirmed that the suit has been purchased and will be present for the 139th edition of The Game, and they said that the mascot’s name will be revealed in the week leading up to the contest.

Social Life Officer Jonathan Haileselassie ’26 said it is unclear whether the mascot will be allowed on the field at The Game.

“We’ve reached out to [Yale’s] team. Hopefully, they let us on the field itself,” Haileselassie said. “If not, we’ll be in the stands getting more and more evidence of the positive impact that this mascot can have.”

—Jonah C. Karafiol can be reached at Follow him on X @jonahkarafiol.

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