Harvard Leader of the Week: UC Edition
For this week’s installment of Harvard Leader of the Week, we reached out to each of the tickets running for President and Vice President of the UC and are publishing their responses in the order we received them. The second ticket is William Greenlaw, a junior government concentrator living in Pforzheimer House and William Morris, junior history and East Asian Studies joint concentrator living in Pforzheimer House.
What got you interested in UC leadership?
Greenlaw: I first joined the UC last year because I wanted to help students, and that hasn’t changed. Right now, we’re on campus at unique moment where sexual assault, social spaces, and mental health are all being talked about at the same time, and people want change. I worry that if we don’t seize this moment when we have everyone’s attention, we’ll get complacent again until something else upsetting happens. If elected, Will Morris and I want to lead the UC to make sure these issues stay in the forefront because we can’t afford to take steps backward.
Morris: I’ve never been on the UC, and before the beginning of this semester I had never really considered it. After talking with some friends and witnessing the sweeping changes on campus, however, I realized that this campus needs a leader on the UC who has experienced life as a regular member of the student body and who knows how to advocate for real change. I have very strong opinions about the major issues on campus, particularly the issue of student mental health. This is a very important time for student government, as Dean Khurana and the rest of the administration have expressed a willingness to work with student leadership. I believe that Will Greenlaw and I have the perfect combination of UC and non-UC experience to work with the student body and the administration to help Harvard live up to its potential.
Who on campus do you look to for inspiration?
Greenlaw: I think it’s definitely Dean Gene Corbin. He’s been finding creative ways to make things happen to public service on campus, like the new engaged learning initiative, and I like to aspire to be just as creative in finding solutions on campus that aren’t as obvious but have a lot of value, especially when it comes to giving back.
Morris: Since I was in kindergarten, I knew I wanted to go to Harvard. Not knowing anyone growing up who had gone here, it always felt like a dream to me. This was not because of the resources, the professors, or even the name. For almost my entire life, the thing that caused me to dream about attending Harvard was the idea of going to class every day with the most talented students in the world. Since coming here, I have constantly looked to my friends and classmates for inspiration. When I see so many folks doing so many great things, it inspires me to stay focused and work hard towards giving back to our community.
What is the biggest change to the UC you’d make or the most important project you’d undertake if elected?
Greenlaw: I want to make sure the UC stays focused. The UC needs leadership that recognizes that having a lot of projects is great, but they should by and large work toward demonstrated needs that are most important to students. And currently, there are few things students care more about than sexual assault, mental health, and social spaces. Particularly, we want to encourage the administration to open up the house dining halls to large social activities like parties without charging students huge fees. We also want to encourage houses to pursue a sophomore orientation program. That way, Harvard can bridge students into house life and share with them community values. That would mean bridging social norms surrounding sexual assault and consent, as well as creating a community to support mental health.
Morris: More than anything, I want to see the UC lead the charge for mental health advocacy on campus. Mental health awareness is an issue that is deeply personal to me, as I have seen with friends on campus on campus and have experienced myself how hard things can be when it feels like we are the alone in facing our mental health struggles. If elected, I will push the UC to pursue creative measures to ending the stigma of mental health on campus. One idea that Greenlaw and I have in mind is funding monthly campus-wide discussions in a large lecture hall for students to discuss the difficulties that we all face here, in an attempt to increase mental health awareness and foster community support.
How do you characterize your leadership styles?
Greenlaw: I’d say I like to lead by listening and negotiating. I always go into a meeting with an agenda, but rarely have I ever come out with the same plan of action. When folks have a different opinion, I do my best to incorporate it to address their viewpoint instead of forcing through some dogmatic agenda. Given the chance, Will Morris and I can bring the UC together with the Administration and other students to help make things happen.
Morris: My leadership style is a mix of hard-work, advocacy, creativity, and a whole lot of quirkiness. More than anything, I will be approachable. I plan to work with Will Greenlaw, other members of the UC, the administration and, most importantly, members of the student body to craft creative solutions to the major issues on campus.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Greenlaw: I’d like to think in 10 years, after a few years of public service, I would go into law to help folks get ahead in a justice system that too often leaves them out.
Morris: Oof, this is the toughest question so far. I’m undecided right now, but more and more I am thinking about either pursuing a career in writing or in academia. Regardless, I think I will want to pursue a JD-Ph.D, and if that happens I’ll probably still be in school a decade from now, which is a pretty sobering thought, to be honest.