The Harvard Graduate Council voted to formally support the Harvard Forward campaign’s proposed amendment to elect more recent alumni to the Board of Overseers at its monthly open meeting Monday.
The HGC also deliberated on crafting a statement of support for Harvard students with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals status — which allows undocumented youth brought to the United States as children to live and work in the country — ahead of the Supreme Court hearing oral arguments on the Trump administration’s plan to end DACA.
Harvard Forward representative Nathan Goldberg ’18 presented the campaign’s platform to the HGC. Harvard Forward is a new campaign staffed by alumni, students, and faculty seeking to push the Board of Overseers — Harvard’s second-highest governing body — to address climate change issues and readjust Harvard’s investment policies.
The Board of Overseers is a 30-person body comprised of Harvard alumni and advises administrators, approves certain actions by the Harvard Corporation — the University’s highest governing body — and generally influences the school’s direction. Harvard Forward hopes to elect more recent alumni to the group.
“The average overseer graduated from Harvard 28 years ago. Think about the conversations we’ve had since then,” Goldberg said. “We’re trying to address the symptoms of Harvard’s attitude toward climate change and the causes, so that whatever attitudes are 30 years from now, seats will be built in for recent alumni to represent current concerns.”
The HGC voted unanimously to support Harvard Forward’s proposal, which includes three parts. The first part reserves six of the 30 Overseers seats for alumni who have graduated in the last four years. The second part institutes regular town halls where students can speak directly to the Overseers, and the third part ensures that the HGC and the Undergraduate Council would have semesterly meetings with the Overseers.
“We are advocating for a more broad and holistic restructuring of how we think about responsible investing and responsible fundraising in a way that is very transparent, which is not what we have today,” Goldberg said.
The UC voted in favor of the same governance proposal at their weekly meeting Sunday.
Harvard Medical School student Alma J. Oñate Munoz, who has held DACA status according to a Harvard Medical School article about undocumented students at the school, also presented at the meeting on behalf of undocumented students in the graduate schools and at the College.
Oñate Munoz informed the HGC that next Tuesday the Supreme Court will be hearing a case which will determine the future legality of DACA. She urged the HGC to ask graduate students to attend immigration advocacy group Harvard College Act On a Dream’s rally on Nov. 11 ahead of the oral arguments.
“Essentially the future of about 800,000 young people in this nation is at stake,” Oñate Munoz said. “We’re hoping to get support from across the graduate schools to show the support we have for our peers, our family members, whoever it might be that you know or don’t know who will be impacted by this decision.”
At the conclusion of the HGC’s meeting, interim-Council member and founder of the HGC’s External Action Committee Kelly E. Menjivar Ramirez proposed that at the next HGC meeting the Council vote to issue a statement in support of undocumented students on campus.
“We made an admissions statement two years ago. I think it would be helpful as a student council to re-issue a statement in support of DACA,” Menjivar Ramirez said.
—Staff writer Luke A. Williams can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @LukeAWilliams22.