Indian American student elected President of Harvard Undergraduate Council

James A. Mathew

An Indian American student has been elected president of Harvard University’s Undergraduate Council. James A. Mathew will be joined by Ifeoma “Ify” E. White-Thorpe as vice president. Mathew will take over the reins from current president Sruthi Palaniappan later this month.

Mathew and White-Thorpe ran on a campaign to foster inclusion and improve student wellness and safety under the slogan “Harvard Can’t Wait.” Earlier, both Mathew and White-Thorpe took the internet by storm with their catchy music video, which garnered more than 5 million views on Twitter, and highlighted “James and Ify” as the candidates to bring change under their “Harvard Can’t Wait” campaign slogan.

The video featured rapping, singing, dancing and even a saxophone solo, and was produced by members of 21 Colorful Crimson, 21CC, an organization co-founded by Mathew. The group includes 21 students in the graduating class of 2021. Mathew told CNN that the students are artistic and interested in creating original music.

The Harvard Crimson, citing the UC Election Commission said Mathew and Thorpe were elected despite not receiving the most first-choice votes under the Borda voting system the Council adopted last year. Voters ranked all five candidates, and each ticket received a quantity of points corresponding to its ranking on the ballot — first-choice tickets received one point, second-choice tickets received 0.5 points, third-choice received 0.33, fourth-choice received 0.25, and fifth-choice received 0.2.

Aditya A. Dhar and Andrew W. Liang received the most first-choice votes with 1,063 students ranking the ticket as their top choice, the Harvard Crimson said. Mathew and White-Thorpe followed with 1,025 first-choice votes, and Sanika S. Mahajan ‘21 and Rushi A. Patel ‘21 came in third with 965 first-choice votes. Under the Borda voting system, Mathew and White-Thorpe won with 1,938.0 points. Dhar and Liang came in second with 1,865.8 points, followed by Mahajan and Patel with 1,846.3, Prashanth “PK” Kumar ‘21 and Michael O. Raji ‘22 with 1,436.3, and M. Thorwald “Thor” Larson ‘21 and Case McKinley ‘21 with 1,298.0.

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