2 students at Harvard went viral with an incredible campaign rap. Then they won the school's election.
Harvard juniors James Mathew and Ifeoma "Ify" White-Thorpe were named Harvard University's Undergraduate Council's next president and vice president, respectively, on Thursday night. The pair campaigned on a platform that focused on inclusion and belonging, sexual assault prevention and response, and health, safety and wellness. But before Election Day, the pair shared a campaign video on YouTube that later went viral when it was shared to Twitter by White-Thorpe's brother, Uche White-Thorpe. Soon the video was all over Twitter, with Dwyane Wade voicing his support, and senators Kamala Harris and Cory Booker reaching out to the students directly, according to MTV News. Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.
Harvard University's new student government president and vice president won their election following an incredible campaign video featuring a rap, saxophone solo, and lots of dancing. Harvard juniors James Mathew and Ifeoma "Ify" White-Thorpe were named the winners of the Undergraduate Council's presidential campaign Thursday night on a campaign platform of inclusion and representation. When they take office in December, Mathew will be president and White-Thorpe will be vice president, the Harvard Crimson reported. But the pair made headlines before Election Day, when they shared a campaign video on YouTube that was later shared to Twitter by White-Thorpe's brother, Uche White-Thorpe. While Twitter is where the video hit big, it had more than 3,000 views on YouTube before Uche posted it, Mathew and White-Thorpe told Insider via email. They said there was already a "huge buzz" on campus before it went viral. The video kicks off with a rap, before the singer takes the hook, saying: "You wanna feel at home / Like you belong / They got you / You want your voice to be heard / Every word / They got you." Soon the video was all over Twitter, with Dwyane Wade voicing his support, and campaigns for Senators Kamala Harris and Cory Booker reaching out to the students directly, Mathew and White-Thorpe said.
My sister and her friend are running for pres and vp of Harvard’s student government and they never had to go this hard pic.twitter.com/4xsHtEbWkv — Uche White-Thorpe (@chukwu_21) November 12, 2019
"I thought it was a great video, and it was something that our campus would love, especially since people would be able to empathize with their friends having a good time," White-Thorpe told MTV News. "I did not think the reach would be that far." Mathew also said he was surprised at the video's reach. "What we did with this was make politics fun, and showed how young people are getting engaged in a nuanced way," he told MTV News.
We are so honored to serve as the next President and Vice President of the Harvard Undergraduate Council. The faith of our student body means the absolute world to us. Our win would not have been possible without the help and dedication of so many friends. To Sarah, Olivia, Gabriel and Kazi - our inner circle of campaign managers and coordinators. To Ela, Te, and Tania - our amazingly talented photographer, graphic designer, and website designer. To BJ, Jenny, Eric, Mario, Kelechi, and E-Jayy - the artists who we’ve created with since freshman year. One viral video later, we can’t thank you enough. To Ezechukwu, Fianko, Pierson, Brian, Rahul, Sahaj, Divya, Katherine, Amy, Joshua, Marissa, Brianna, Roula, Rebecca, Julianna, Allison, Olivia, Shannon, Chia, Edvin, Rohan and Mo - the people who stayed up late door-dropping in the Yard, missed meals to pass out stickers at Berg, and walked all the way to the Quad to poster. To all our loyal supporters who pulled up for photos on a chilly morning, helped with e-outreach, publicized support, and provided us with love throughout this process, this is truly your win. To Diego, Emily, Leo, and the rest of Act on a Dream - the student leaders who invited us to stand in solidarity. We did something unprecedented in the campaign process together, and we can’t wait to see the change we make this coming year. To Matthew - the amazing friend and leader who didn’t hesitate to utilize his resources and coordinate our alternative debate. Your support made it all possible. Congratulations to Aditya, Andrew, Sanika, Rushi, PK, Michael, Thor, and Case for an exciting and hard-fought campaign. Your commitment to improving campus and your ideas to do so will continue to inspire all that we do. We look forward to future collaboration. Sruthi and Julia, thank you for the example that you’ve set and the leaders that you both are. We are humbled to follow in your footsteps. To the Harvard student body, we are so excited to prove you right. We believe that Harvard Can’t Wait for change, and we’re so glad that you agree. And to our new following far beyond Cambridge, we can’t thank you enough for the overwhelming love. Stay tuned! A post shared by James & Ify for UC (@jamesandify) on Nov 15, 2019 at 3:47pm PST on Nov 15, 2019 at 3:47pm PST Some of our key platform initiatives! Read our full platform at jamesandify.org and make sure to vote by noon today!! A post shared by James & Ify for UC (@jamesandify) on Nov 14, 2019 at 6:18am PST on Nov 14, 2019 at 6:18am PST
The pair enlisted fellow Undergraduate Council juniors for help with the campaign video, after thinking up the concept in a dorm room. "At our core, we're all artists and we felt that was something that we definitely had to bring into our campaign," White-Thorpe told MTV News. "We wanted to highlight that campaigning and politics could be fun, and it shouldn't be draining. This is something that should benefit our entire student body and we wanted it to showcase the energy we would also bring to our administration." Mathew and White-Thorpe told Insider that their campaign, at its core, was based in the "power of community." They credited their friends and campaign members with their help along the way. "Nothing we did in this process was done by just the two of us, whether it was writing platform initiatives or creating the viral video," they said. "As we both aspire for careers in public service and continue on this journey, we hope to always advocate for our constituents and amplify their voices, such that they can have the power to advocate for themselves." The pair campaigned on a platform that focused on inclusion and belonging, pushing for programs for first-generation and low-income students as well as sexual assault prevention and response, and health, safety, and wellness. Mathew and White-Thorpe called winning the election "surreal" in their interview with Insider. "We're excited to engage more students in student government than ever before, just as our video increased voter turn-out significantly," Mathew and White-Thorpe told Insider. "We're so proud of our platform and our emphasis on inclusivity, and we want our win to be a win for every student on this campus. Additionally, as this video has already awarded us, we're very excited for opportunities to reach beyond campus and represent the voices of college students across the country. We want our administration to be more outward-facing than ever before." A previous version of this article said Uche White-Thorpe was Ify White-Thorpe's sister. He is her brother.
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