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The strength of the two frontrunners in the 2009 Undergraduate Council presidential election ensures that Harvard students get capable leadership no matter who wins. But the dedicated approach and remarkable track record of one ticket ultimately sets it apart.
Johnny F. Bowman ’11 and his running mate Eric N. Hysen ’11 share much of the strong policy platform of George J. J. Hayward ’11, who is a Crimson editorial editor, and Felix M. Zhang ’11. Yet we have more faith in Hayward’s ability to deliver on his promises.
Both tickets recognize that J-term and the future of students’ winter break experience, for example, is an issue of pressing importance for the student community. Bowman and Hysen have promised to speak to student groups and work to create a positive J-term experience for students over the new winter break; Hayward and Zhang take this idea a step further, calling for a “January Experience Partnership,” through which student groups will propose plans for their J-terms with the UC as spokesman.
Both campaigns also rightly prioritize student group activities, with Hayward-Zhang examining cost efficiency in groups’ events and Bowman-Hysen pushing for an interactive room reservation website and greater focus on room availabilities.
In these and many other initiatives, the goals of these two campaigns are fairly similar, and the student community will have capable, ambitious advocates at the UC helm regardless of which team wins. That said, when it comes to execution, Hayward and Zhang are the right choice.
We are all used to presidential candidates making promises—UC campaign platforms of years past read like a litany of initiatives that never came to be. Yet Hayward follows through.
George Hayward has worked tirelessly as a UC representative since his sophomore year, and his results speak to the capabilities he would bring to the UC presidency. Many students are familiar with his efforts last year to bring better cell-phone reception to the Quad—an initiative that required Hayward to reach out to student groups and marshal student concerns into a campaign that produced tangible, immediate results.
The successful phone campaign is just one of several drives that Hayward has led as a UC representative—the ATM in the Quad that Hayward was instrumental in obtaining also speaks to his advocacy efforts, as does his active presence in the campaign to reverse the administration’s planned late-night shuttle service cuts. His approach and commitment to execution will be exciting to watch when enhanced by the leverage that comes with the UC president’s position and complemented by Zhang’s leadership experience on the UC and in student groups. Hayward has represented his Quad constituents in an exemplary fashion, and this results-oriented approach can now expand to the student community as a whole.
Though Bowman and Hysen are well qualified and would likely serve the students well as leaders of the 29th UC Council, their track record leaves us less confident in their ability to deliver if elected. Bowman’s past involvement with the Student Labor Action Movement has demonstrated his desire to bring about change within the Harvard community, but this work has often included polarizing activism on the behalf of workers rather than students. While Bowman might be able to serve ably as the Harvard student body’s primary advocate, we are not yet convinced.
Bowman and Hysen are a strong ticket with plans that should remain in consideration regardless of whether they are elected. But Hayward’s ability to mobilize students and see initiatives through to fruition will bring energy to the UC leadership, and, hopefully, this focus on students will shift the culture of the UC, ending the perception of the body as a distant organization out of touch with student concerns. Based on past success and the promise for more in the future, we are excited to see what improvements Hayward-Zhang will bring to Harvard.
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