The Graduating
Class of


by the numbers

Campus Politics

By Kevin R. Chen

The Class of 2022 is graduating during an academic year marked by the first full return to campus since the start of the pandemic. Seniors reported significantly more favorable views of Harvard administrators than the previous class, who graduated amid remote learning, and a majority supported the University’s easing of Covid-19 restrictions.

After students overwhelmingly voted to dissolve the Undergraduate Council in April 2022, graduating senior respondents reported support of the UC’s dissolution, but ambivalence regarding the Harvard Undergraduate Association, the new structure that replaced it.

As the Supreme Court prepares to hear a case challenging Harvard’s race-conscious admissions, graduating seniors still largely report support of affirmative action.

Campus Leaders

Sentiment towards Harvard administrators among respondents improved significantly over the past year, during which the College invited all students back to campus and gradually eased Covid-19 restrictions. Favorability ratings for University President Lawrence S. Bacow, Dean of the College Rakesh Khurana, and Faculty of Arts and Sciences Dean Claudine Gay all increased, with more students reporting favorable views than unfavorable views on each of them.

Favorability for Bacow among Class of 2022 respondents increased by half from the previous year, rising from 22 percent to 33 percent, though a plurality of respondents — 36 percent — said they had no opinion. Twenty-four percent of seniors reported unfavorable views on Bacow, down from 42 percent last year.

A majority of seniors — 54 percent — reported viewing Khurana favorably, up from 40 percent the previous year. His unfavorability rating roughly halved from 39 percent last year to 20 percent this year.

Gay’s favorablity also increased, rising from 22 percent last year to 30 percent this year. Though, like with Bacow, a plurality of graduating seniors — 42 percent — said they had no opinion. Eighteen percent said they had an unfavorable opinion of Gay, down from 23 percent in 2021.

Support for student leaders also increased, with 28 percent of respondents reporting favorable views on former Undergraduate Council President Noah A. Harris ’22 and Vice President Jenny Y. Gan ’22, who served during the 2021 calendar year. This is a 11 percentage point increase from 17 percent of senior respondents last year who supported Harris and Gan’s predecessors James A. Mathew ’21 and Vice President Ifeoma E. “Ify” White-Thorpe ’21. A plurality of respondents — 37 percent — said they had no opinion on Harris and Gan’s administration, and 27 percent said they had an unfavorable view.

Still, students overwhelmingly voted to dissolve the Undergraduate Council in favor of an alternative student government structure this spring after relentless campaigning by former Undergraduate Council President Michael Y. Cheng ’22, who was elected to serve during the 2022 calendar year and resigned after the UC’s dissolution.

Cheng was a polarizing figure, with a slim plurality of respondents — 33 percent — reporting unfavorable views of Cheng, and 32 percent reporting favorable views.

A plurality of respondents — 42 percent — favorably viewed the dissolution of the UC, with 18 percent reporting an unfavorable opinion.

However, students felt largely ambivalent about the formation of the new structure, the Harvard Undergraduate Association, with a plurality of respondents — 43 percent — reporting no opinion. More students said they viewed the formation of the HUA unfavorably than favorably, with 25 percent and 20 percent responding as such, respectively.

Covid-19 Restrictions and Commencement

Harvard has gradually lifted its Covid-19 restrictions over the course of the past year. After inviting all students back to campus last fall for in-person classes for the first time since March 2020, Harvard ended isolation housing and contact tracing this spring. Harvard then lifted its indoor mask mandate along with the city of Cambridge in March and stopped requiring Covid-19 testing by May.

A majority of respondents — 68 percent — said they approved of Harvard’s lifting of its Covid-19 restrictions, with 19 percent in disapproval.

For the first time in three years, Harvard will hold an in-person Commencement for its graduating class. Roughly half of respondents — 53 percent — held a favorable opinion of the selection of New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern as Commencement speaker, while 45 percent of respondents held a favorable opinion of the selection of Boston Mayor Michelle Wu ’07 as Class Day speaker.

Last year, an overwhelming majority of respondents — 84 percent — disapproved of Harvard’s decision to hold Commencement virtually in 2021 while many peer institutions held their ceremonies in person. This year, the University will additionally hold a combined in-person Commencement for the Classes of 2020 and 2021, fulfilling its pledge to do so.

Affirmative Action

After the Supreme Court agreed in January to hear lawsuits challenging the use of race-conscious admissions at Harvard and the University of North Carolina, the group suing the schools asked the Supreme Court earlier this month to overturn precedents allowing the consideration of race in university admissions.

Despite these legal challenges, support for affirmative action remains strong among the senior class, with a majority of respondents — 68 percent — reporting a favorable opinion of race-conscious affirmative action and 14 percent reporting an unfavorable opinion.

An overwhelming majority of Black respondents — 88 percent — held favorable opinions of affirmative action, compared to 79 percent of Hispanic or Latinx respondents, 66 percent of Asian respondents, and 66 percent of white respondents.


Harvard announced in September that it would divest its endowment from fossil fuels, following years of activism from Harvard affiliates. This year, 74 percent of respondents said they were in favor of the University’s decision to divest, while only 7 percent of respondents said they were opposed. Last year, before Harvard announced its intention to divest, 65 percent of graduating senior respondents said they believed the University should do so.

Support for divestment was divided sharply along political lines, with 91 percent and 85 percent of very progressive and progressive students in support, respectively, and 0 percent and 18 percent of very conservative and conservative students in support, respectively.

On the other hand, support for divesting the University’s endowment from the private prison industry held steady, with 72 percent of respondents saying Harvard should divest from the prison industry, the same as last year.

Harvard Police

Following the retirement of Harvard University Police Department Chief Francis D. “Bud” Riley at the end of 2020, whose department had been tainted by allegations of racism, sexism, and favoritism, Victor A. “Vic” Clay began as HUPD’s new chief in July 2021. Clay oversaw several sweeping changes, with only three of Riley’s original senior leadership team remaining by March.

A majority of seniors — 58 percent — said they fully or somewhat trust HUPD, up slightly from 52 percent last year. Trust among Black students was lower than among other students, with 39 percent of Black students reporting trust of HUPD, compared to 54, 63, and 59 percent among Hispanic or Latinx, Asian, and white students, respectively.

A lower proportion of students — 46 percent — said they fully or somewhat trust the Cambridge Police Department.

Sexual Assault and Harassment

The Class of 2022 has seen multiple faculty members face allegations of sexual misconduct. The Crimson found that three prominent Harvard Anthropology professors faced allegations of sexual harassment. Harvard then stripped one of these faculty, Gary Urton, of his emeritus status, and placed another, John Comaroff, on administrative leave.

In a controversy drawing national attention, nearly 40 faculty members, including some of Harvard’s most prominent faculty, questioned the investigation into Comaroff. Most of them quickly retracted their support after three graduate students sued Harvard alleging that it ignored sexual harassment complaints against Comaroff for years.

Twelve percent of respondents said they have been sexually harassed or assaulted at Harvard. Of those students, 82 percent identify as female, 14 percent identify as male, and 4 percent identify as genderqueer or nonbinary. Only twenty-seven of respondents who were sexually harassed or assaulted at Harvard chose to report their incident.

In 2021, the University combined its sexual harassment and assault resources — formerly split between the Title IX Office and the Office for Sexual Assault Prevention and Response — under one entity, the Office for Gender Equity. Just 33 percent of respondents said they fully or somewhat trusted the Office for Gender Equity, while 21 percent said they somewhat or fully distrusted the office.

Nearly half of respondents — 45 percent — reported being dissatisfied with Harvard’s efforts to prevent sexual assault and harassment on campus, with 18 percent reporting being satisfied.

Mental Health

Thirty-nine percent of seniors reported that they sought mental health support from University Health Services during their time at Harvard, marking a slight decrease from last year. A similar share of respondents — 31 percent — sought support from off-campus professionals, and nine percent sought help from on-campus peer counseling groups.

Among those who sought support from HUHS, 32 percent said they were somewhat or very satisfied with their experiences, a drop from last year when 47 percent of seniors in the Class of 2021 reported being satisfied with HUHS. Fifty-one percent said they are dissatisfied, a slight uptick from last year’s 44 percent. By contrast, 63 percent of those who went to an off-campus professional indicated they were satisfied with their treatment.

Fifty-seven percent of respondents said they somewhat or fully trusted HUHS, while 29 percent indicated some or full distrust.


Some Harvard affiliates have pushed for the renaming of Mather House and Lowell House. Students have criticized the Houses’ associations with their namesakes, former University Presidents Increase Mather, who was a slave owner, and Abbott Lawrence Lowell, who enacted racist and homophobic policies at Harvard.

A plurality of seniors — 43 percent — reported they believe that Harvard should rename buildings such as Mather House and Lowell House because of the actions of their namesakes, whereas 27 percent reported they believe Harvard should not.

Gay, the FAS Dean, outlined procedures for removing controversial names from buildings and titles earlier this month. The school will engage in the denaming process as one of many initiatives responding to a University report finding that slavery supported and shaped Harvard’s growth.

A plurality of respondents — 30 percent — said they held a favorable view of Harvard’s handling of its historic ties to slavery, while 20 percent said they held an unfavorable view, 28 percent had no opinion, and 21 percent said they did not have enough information to respond.

Campus Publications

A majority of respondents — 54 percent — indicated a favorable view of The Harvard Crimson, up from 46 percent last year. Eighteen percent viewed the newspaper unfavorably, down from 28 percent last year.

Only about 16 percent of seniors reported a favorable opinion of the Harvard Lampoon, a semi-secret Sorrento Square social organization that used to occasionally publish a so-called humor magazine, while a majority — 61 percent — reported an unfavorable opinion. This marks a slight improvement from last year, when 8 percent of seniors viewed the organization favorably and 72 percent unfavorably.