Chances are you’ve heard of Hayward-Zhang. It’s popped up in your inbox and been plastered on your dorm windows. If you strolled by the Science Center this week you couldn’t have missed the pumping music and zealous students passionately bellowing the candidates’ names and waving banners. By now, you probably know that George J. J. Hayward ’11 and his running mate Felix M. Zhang ’11 are contending in the Undergraduate Council’s presidential elections this year, with a platform built on hot breakfast, campus safety, and budget cuts.
What you can’t tell from the campaigning: Hayward is a big fan of hip hop artist J Dilla, jazz musician John Coltrane, and composer George Gershwin. He has more than 50,000 songs in his music collection. When he’s not adding tunes to his colossal music library, Hayward serves as an active member in both the Institute of Politics and the Black Student Association. Within the UC, he is currently elected vice chair of Educational Policy, vice chair of House Life Issues, and a member of the 2009 Budget Cuts Task Force.
“Driven” is a word that often comes up when friends are asked to describe Hayward. “He’s incredibly motivated and focused,” said Amber A. James ’11. This is not particularly surprising for someone with presidential ambitions, but Hayward works for more than just glory. His priority after college is to support his family. “I’m on very heavy financial aid. My father is very disabled—he can’t work—my mother is in a tough situation, and my brother’s sick with diabetes and other things,” Hayward said. “I definitely intend to, before pursuing graduate education, work and try to help out my family.”
Hayward was raised in a New York suburb, where he attended catholic school. The candidate said he reached a turning point when he was accepted to Phillips Exeter Academy on a full scholarship. “At Exeter I had a lot of growth and it opened my eyes and opened my mind to applying to places like Harvard, whereas I might not have considered that stuff before,” Hayward said.
Hayward said he joined the UC knowing exactly what he wanted—change for the campus. “I never ran for the Undergraduate Council to figure out what I wanted to do. I had something that I wanted to fix and I thought that the UC would be the best way to achieve that solution,” he recalled. Hayward is a Currier House resident, and his most notable accomplishments for the UC have been bringing AT&T cell phone reception and ATMs to the Quad. The future he envisions for the UC is one that underscores student voice. In his words, “That’s how the UC should be working when it’s working at its best—when it’s bringing students into the process and working on what students want to see fixed.”
Hayward is known for pursuing issues on his own, and ultimately surprising peers with the results. He campaigned for cell phone reception in the Quad independently, according to Kwang Y. (Joseph) Kim ’12.
James knows Hayward through the IOP and very fondly remembers his efforts to hold events for the 2009 Presidential Elections in the Quad. “We would have board meetings and he would sort of keep us updated, but no one really knew all the things he was doing until we came out to this amazing event,” she said.
“I’ve heard from a lot of people that George Hayward’s weakness is that everything he’s done on the UC, he’s done by himself. He’s not a team player,” said Kim. He adds, “But if you ever work with George, you’re going to realize how hard he works. It’s not that he doesn’t want to work in teams, it’s that he’s a more efficient and faster worker by himself.”
THE TEAM PLAYER
Showing up at the interview with a thin, yellow Lacoste hoodie, Felix Zhang’s disposition is every bit as sunny as his outfit. An economics concentrator from Cabot house, Zhang is a product of two countries—China and the United States. Born in America, then sent back to Shanghai to live with this grandparents, Zhang reacquainted himself with his parents when he returned to America as a child. “One day, my parents did come to Shanghai to pick me up and I was like, ‘Oh...hello, strangers...’ I periodically went back home to Shanghai and moved around a lot,” recounts Zhang about his childhood.
Despite his nomadic upbringing, there’s one thing that really sticks with Zhang even now: “My parents always taught me that whatever you’re involved in, you should always leave it better when you leave,” said Zhang, “So whether it’s CSA or Harvard in general, by the time I leave it, I would have left it better than when I came.” Zhang is the vice president of the Chinese Students Association (CSA) and the director of special projects for Veritas Financial Group. In the beginning of this year, Zhang worked with CSA, BSA, and BMF to host “Rush Hour,” a party held in the Quad that brough members of all three organizations together.
Zhang is known for working between student groups on campus with finesse, however he is new to the UC. This is Zhang's first year on the Council and he has been criticized by detractors for lacking experience.“Felix’s relevant skills [are demonstrated by] work outside of the UC—the student groups perspective," saaid Kim, "He knows how to work across student groups to make things happen. He really knows how to reach out to all the cultural groups and student organizations around campus.”
At press time, Hayward and Zhang currently lead the race in endorsements, with nine student groups behind them. Several of the groups, including BMF and BSA, are organizations wiht which the candidates are affiliated.
Hayward and Zhang are up against the John F. Bowman '11 and Eric N. Hysen '11 ticket and Robert G. B. Long '11 and David R. Johnson '11 ticket this year. “The Long-Johnson ticket is going to the hardest to run against,” said Hayward, though that ticket is widely regarded as a less serious source of competition. “The other candidates are great," he added, "but we feel we have the best record of results.”