FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

THE CAMPAIGN

General Questions

What are the overarching goals of Harvard Forward?


We want to establish Harvard as a moral and academic leader in the context of the climate crisis and give a voice to students and recent alumni within Harvard’s governance structures.




How does Harvard Forward plan to achieve these goals?


We will work to elect 5 recent alumni - John Beatty, Lisa Bi Huang, Margaret Purce, Thea Sebastian, and Jayson Toweh - to Harvard’s Board of Overseers in 2020 on a platform of climate action, responsible investing, and inclusive governance.




Why did Harvard Forward choose this tactic?


We believe that running a traditional organizing campaign will simultaneously boost turnout for the election and demonstrate to Harvard that the majority of the alumni body supports our platform. This is about more than any individual candidate; this is about building a movement and creating a mandate for change. Additionally, history gives hope for petition candidates’ influence on Harvard’s decision-making. In the late 1980s, a group called Harvard & Radcliffe Alumni/ae Against Apartheid (HRAAA) recruited and ran petition candidates to the Board of Overseers on a South African Divestment platform. They elected a handful of Overseers across several years, including Archbishop Desmond Tutu. After years of sustained pressure, the University decided to shift its investment guidelines.




How did Harvard Forward get started?


You can read our origin story and meet the team here.




How can I support Harvard Forward?






Other Harvard Efforts

Are Harvard Forward and Fossil Fuel Divest Harvard the same?


We are not Fossil Fuel Divest Harvard, but we are in frequent communication with them! Harvard Forward and Divest Harvard are part of a broad coalition of alumni and student groups that have the same goals: to move Harvard forward into a position of leadership in the fight against climate change and to grant a greater voice to students and young alumni. Divest Harvard does great work through on the ground activism, while we’re approaching the problem through Harvard’s system of elections. Both approaches are necessary, and we encourage alumni to sign the FFDH petition and get involved with their work.




Does Harvard Forward work with the Harvard Prison Divestment Campaign?


Members of HPDC provided input and feedback for our responsible investment platform. You can find our statement of support for the Harvard Prison Divestment Campaign on our platform page.




What other climate-focused efforts exist at Harvard?


There are many, ranging from on-campus initiatives to alumni Shared Interest Groups. You can read about some of them on the Harvard Climate Wiki.





Campaign Finance

How is Harvard Forward funded?


Harvard Forward was created by young alumni who are passionate about making Harvard the leader that it should be. We believe that many alumni share this goal and want to contribute to the cause, so after creating HF we began accepting grassroots donations to help accomplish our mission. Donations are made to our parent non-profit, The Boarding School 501(c)3. To date, we’ve received over 350 individual donations. The average donation is under $200, and the most popular donation amounts are $20.20 and $16.36.




What is The Boarding School?


The Boarding School is Harvard Forward’s parent non-profit. The same alumni that started HF founded TBS in partnership with two Young Alumni Trustees on the Princeton Board. Beyond Harvard Forward, TBS is developing educational materials and offerings for current and prospective young trustees who serve on boards of universities, foundations, and other companies and organizations. Harvard Forward was the first TBS project and was followed by the launch of Yale Forward. Over the coming years, TBS hopes to continue supporting similar efforts that help young people shape the institutions that impact their lives.




What does Harvard Forward use donations for? How much has HF spent?


Harvard Forward uses donations to cover our campaign operations costs. During the pre-election period, this included:

  • Shipping physical petition forms around the world, especially before and after Global Networking Night (an expense that was necessary as the online form was nearly impossible to use);
  • Limited campaign travel (flights/trains/hotels/food costs) for candidates and organizers prior to the COVID-19 pandemic;
  • Volunteer campaign meet-ups around the country and world previous to the pandemic;
  • Weekly payments for our field director (our only paid organizer pre-election);
  • Our website, email server, Mailchimp, and database;
  • Printing and mailing of business cards and other campaign materials;
  • Digital ads on Facebook to alert alumni to the existence of Harvard Forward.
To learn more about our pre-election expenditures, visit this page. Since the start of the election on July 1st, our costs have included:
  • Campaing infrastructure (website, email server, Mailchimp, etc);
  • Stipends for two summer fellows (our only paid organizers during the election);
  • Digital ads on Facebook to alert alumni to get out the vote.
To learn more about our election expenditures, visit this page. Donors interested in our broader mission have made donations that have been used to help launch The Boarding School and Yale Forward.





THE BOARD OF OVERSEERS & THE ELECTION

What is the Harvard Board of Overseers, and what does the Board do?


The Board of Overseers is Harvard’s highest democratically-elected board. It consists of 30 alumni who serve six-year terms. Five new Overseers are elected each year. According to Harvard’s website, "The Board of Overseers exerts broad influence over the University's strategic directions, provides essential counsel to the University’s leadership on priorities and plans, and has the power of consent to certain actions such as the election of Corporation members." You can read more about the board here.




How do candidates get on the ballot?


Every year, the Harvard Alumni Association nominates eight candidates to the ballot. Alumni can also qualify for the ballot by gathering the requisite number of signatures from fellow alumni by February 1st; this year, that number was 2,936. Our five candidates each gathered close to 5,000 signatures to qualify.




When is the Board of Overseers election in 2020 and how do I vote?


The 2020 election was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Voting now runs from July 1st through August 18th. Voting can be conducted via paper ballot, which will be mailed to all alumni by Harvard, or via individualized voting link, which will be sent by the HAA through email.




How is Harvard Forward going to achieve the goals of the platform with only five of 30 seats on the Board of Overseers?


While five out of 30 is far from a majority, having voices in the room who are advocating for greater climate action will be impactful. You can imagine that if the Board is naming a new President or Corporation member, it's key to have Overseers in the room asking,"What's your plan to have Harvard take more significant climate action?" This is just one of the ways in which our candidates can work to make climate action a strategic priority for Harvard once they're elected. Outside of their official capacities, Overseers also have more direct access to institutional power players and greater leverage than the average alum when it comes to advocating for issues. And if Harvard Forward continues to be active in the coming years, we may eventually have a majority on the Board who support climate action. More than anything, the act of electing Harvard Forward candidates sends a clear message that alumni care about these issues so Havard should take action.




But the Board doesn’t directly control the endowment, so why does it make sense to have pro-divestment Overseers?


It's true that the Overseers do not directly control the endowment. However, the Overseers do have the power to consent to the appointment of new Corporation members. This ability to advise and consent can be leveraged to make divestment a priority for the Harvard Management Corporation. More importantly, if we can mobilize thousands of alumni to vote in this election and get our candidates on the Board, it creates a mandate. Essentially, we're putting climate action up for a referendum on the ballot. Showing that a large number of alumni care about this cause and are demanding action will create a mandate for those in power to take action. Additionally, Harvard Forward is about more than just divesting the endowment from fossil fuels. We are also trying to make climate education and research more of a priority at Harvard. Here, the Board of Overseers can more directly exert influence, through such things as the visitation process. We should be asking every school and department how they are incorporating climate into their curriculum and how they're providing opportunities and resources for students and faculty to focus on climate-related topics.




Shouldn’t candidates for the Board not be “single-issue” candidates?


Our candidates are not single-issue candidates! They are running on a platform of climate action, responsible investing, and greater inclusion of recent alumni and student voices. These are three topics we feel need to be prioritized to maintain Harvard’s excellence and position as world leader. While all of our candidates are dedicated to enacting the Harvard Forward platform because they believe it’s in the best interest of the University to do so, they are also exceptionally intelligent, informed, driven people with a deep passion for making sure Harvard continues to be a world leader and a standard for excellence. Our five candidates come from diverse backgrounds and experiences and reflect the diversity of the alumni community, particularly the more recent generations. They will thoughtfully and ably perform all Overseer responsibilities and will bring fresh perspectives to the Board that will benefit all.





THE PLATFORM

General Questions

What are the overarching goals of Harvard Forward?


We want to establish Harvard as a moral and academic leader in the context of the climate crisis and give a voice to students and recent alumni within Harvard’s governance structures.




How does Harvard Forward plan to achieve these goals?


We will work to elect 5 recent alumni - John Beatty, Lisa Bi Huang, Margaret Purce, Thea Sebastian, and Jayson Toweh - to Harvard’s Board of Overseers in 2020 on a platform of climate action, responsible investing, and inclusive governance.




Why did Harvard Forward choose this tactic?


We believe that running a traditional organizing campaign will simultaneously boost turnout for the election and demonstrate to Harvard that the majority of the alumni body supports our platform. This is about more than any individual candidate; this is about building a movement and creating a mandate for change. Additionally, history gives hope for petition candidates’ influence on Harvard’s decision-making. In the late 1980s, a group called Harvard & Radcliffe Alumni/ae Against Apartheid (HRAAA) recruited and ran petition candidates to the Board of Overseers on a South African Divestment platform. They elected a handful of Overseers across several years, including Archbishop Desmond Tutu. After years of sustained pressure, the University decided to shift its investment guidelines.




How did Harvard Forward get started?


You can read our origin story and meet the team here.




How can I support Harvard Forward?






Other Harvard Efforts

Are Harvard Forward and Fossil Fuel Divest Harvard the same?


We are not Fossil Fuel Divest Harvard, but we are in frequent communication with them! Harvard Forward and Divest Harvard are part of a broad coalition of alumni and student groups that have the same goals: to move Harvard forward into a position of leadership in the fight against climate change and to grant a greater voice to students and young alumni. Divest Harvard does great work through on the ground activism, while we’re approaching the problem through Harvard’s system of elections. Both approaches are necessary, and we encourage alumni to sign the FFDH petition and get involved with their work.




Does Harvard Forward work with the Harvard Prison Divestment Campaign?


Members of HPDC provided input and feedback for our responsible investment platform. You can find our statement of support for the Harvard Prison Divestment Campaign on our platform page.




What other climate-focused efforts exist at Harvard?


There are many, ranging from on-campus initiatives to alumni Shared Interest Groups. You can read about some of them on the Harvard Climate Wiki.





Campaign Finance

How is Harvard Forward funded?


Harvard Forward was created by young alumni who are passionate about making Harvard the leader that it should be. We believe that many alumni share this goal and want to contribute to the cause, so after creating HF we began accepting grassroots donations to help accomplish our mission. Donations are made to our parent non-profit, The Boarding School 501(c)3. To date, we’ve received over 350 individual donations. The average donation is under $200, and the most popular donation amounts are $20.20 and $16.36.




What is The Boarding School?


The Boarding School is Harvard Forward’s parent non-profit. The same alumni that started HF founded TBS in partnership with two Young Alumni Trustees on the Princeton Board. Beyond Harvard Forward, TBS is developing educational materials and offerings for current and prospective young trustees who serve on boards of universities, foundations, and other companies and organizations. Harvard Forward was the first TBS project and was followed by the launch of Yale Forward. Over the coming years, TBS hopes to continue supporting similar efforts that help young people shape the institutions that impact their lives.




What does Harvard Forward use donations for? How much has HF spent?


Harvard Forward uses donations to cover our campaign operations costs. During the pre-election period, this included:

  • Shipping physical petition forms around the world, especially before and after Global Networking Night (an expense that was necessary as the online form was nearly impossible to use);
  • Limited campaign travel (flights/trains/hotels/food costs) for candidates and organizers prior to the COVID-19 pandemic;
  • Volunteer campaign meet-ups around the country and world previous to the pandemic;
  • Weekly payments for our field director (our only paid organizer pre-election);
  • Our website, email server, Mailchimp, and database;
  • Printing and mailing of business cards and other campaign materials;
  • Digital ads on Facebook to alert alumni to the existence of Harvard Forward.
To learn more about our pre-election expenditures, visit this page. Since the start of the election on July 1st, our costs have included:
  • Campaing infrastructure (website, email server, Mailchimp, etc);
  • Stipends for two summer fellows (our only paid organizers during the election);
  • Digital ads on Facebook to alert alumni to get out the vote.
To learn more about our election expenditures, visit this page. Donors interested in our broader mission have made donations that have been used to help launch The Boarding School and Yale Forward.





Have a question we didn’t answer?

Reach out to comms@harvardforward.org.