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Effort to Recall HUA Co-President John Cooke Set for General Vote After Petition Campaign Succeeds

A petiton campaign to remove Harvard Undergraduate Association Co-President John S. Cooke from his post garnered enough signatures to trigger a recall election.
A petiton campaign to remove Harvard Undergraduate Association Co-President John S. Cooke from his post garnered enough signatures to trigger a recall election. By Elyse C. Goncalves
By Cam N. Srivastava and William Y. Tan, Crimson Staff Writers

The effort to oust Harvard Undergraduate Association Co-President John S. Cooke ’25 from office will head to a student-wide recall election after a petition campaign launched Saturday evening garnered enough signatures to trigger a vote.

The results of the petition campaign, which await final approval from the HUA Election Commission and the Dean of Students Office, will lead to the first recall election for an HUA co-president in the organization’s two-year history.

The petition needed to surpass 391 signatures to be successful, representing 20 percent of the number of votes cast in last year’s election. The Harvard Feminist Coalition announced in an Instagram post Sunday evening that the petition had received 527 signatures in 24 hours.

“Students made it abundantly clear: we reject an HUA President with allegations of misconduct to his name,” the Harvard Feminist Coalition wrote in the post.

The effort to recall Cooke ends a tumultuous week for the College’s embattled student government co-president. The Fox Club, a single-gender Harvard final club, expelled Cooke as a member on Wednesday over misconduct allegations, but the specific nature of the allegations remain unclear. (Cooke denied the allegations in a meeting with the Fox Club’s undergraduate leadership.)

On Wednesday and Thursday, HUA officers discussed Cooke’s expulsion from the Fox Club and the possibility of his resignation as HUA co-president. Andy Donahue, an administrator for the Dean of Students Office who serves as the College’s liaison with the HUA, told the HUA officers it was not possible to compel Cooke to resign.

Cooke did not immediately respond to a request for comment Sunday evening.

A recall election will be held within the next two weeks, according to the HUA constitution and bylaws. At least two-thirds of students must vote in favor of recalling Cooke to remove him from office.

Behruz Mahmudov ’26, chair of the HUA Election Commission, told The Crimson Sunday evening that the commission is aware of the petition’s status, and will meet tomorrow night to begin verifying signatures.

“According to the constitution, we have up until two weeks to do the validating [of] the recall votes,” Mahmudov said. “But I do not expect it to take that long.”

“We will validate them as soon as possible, and proceed with the recall,” he added.

The effort to recall Cooke comes just three weeks before his term as co-president is slated to end on April 20, meaning the vote to recall Cooke is more symbolic than it is a real effort to change the student government’s current direction.

All College undergraduates will be eligible to vote in the recall election. The timeline for the recall election may coincide with the voting period for this year’s HUA elections, which are set to begin April 3 at midnight and run until 11:59 p.m. on April 5.

—Staff writer Cam N. Srivastava can be reached at Follow him on X @camsrivastava.

—Staff writer William Y. Tan can be reached at Follow him on X @william_y_tan.

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