Courtesy of Jenny Huang

When asked to define his campaign for both Yale College Council President and Events Director, Brian Zhang ’25 chose “loyal,” pointing to the fact that all of his proposed policies “come from a place of heart and drive,” and to act as a resource on campus for students of all identities. 

The only candidate running on a solo ticket for YCC President, Zhang is focused on widening representation for all students on next year’s council. He said that this school year, he served as one of the first openly gay and first-generation, low-income Junior Class Council presidents.

“I’ve never really seen myself in these positions before performing these roles on campus,” Zhang told the News. “And you know, it’s not just about surface-level representation, it’s about the action. It’s about what you want to do for the community, it’s about putting power within.”

Identity was enmeshed into many of the events Zhang planned this year as Junior Class Council President. Zhang planned an HIV/AIDS fundraiser and a Cystic Fibrosis awareness fundraiser, having had a childhood friend pass away due to CF. Pointing to some of his other achievements as JCC President, Zhang emphasized that 100 percent of the campaign promises he made last year were kept. 

A big part of Zhang’s candidacy centers around the idea of being a “second-place champion,” which he brought up twice at Sunday night’s candidate debate. Zhang acknowledged that the role of YCC President is typically filled by a junior. Running as a rising senior, he’s ready to make the sacrifices and “let other people shine.”

Embracing his role as a rising senior, Zhang noted that the senior class is often left out of YCC discussions since seniors rarely hold positions on the council in either the Senate or the Executive Board. 

Under his presidential platform, Zhang is looking to expand exam reimbursements for the MCAT, LSAT and FRE to cover test preparation resources and subscriptions, trips to consulting receptions and conferences, and travel costs associated with touring graduate schools. He also hopes to expand Dean’s Extensions to professional development reasons.

Regarding academics, Zhang hopes to push the administration to allow one retroactive Credit/D/Fail a year.

“As President, I have to think about the wins that we can get,” Zhang said. “I think part of that is negotiating with the administration and coming up with more reasonable and practical goals.”

Zhang noted that retroactive Credit/D/Fail has long been a goal of the YCC, yet little progress has been made with the administration.

Zhang’s full platform additionally includes initiatives for FGLI support such as making the price for summer courses proportional to a student’s respective aid package. Currently, no matter what amount of financial aid a student receives, they are only eligible for 50 percent off a summer course; still costing them approximately $2,500 for a single summer course. Zhang also hopes to raise the full financial aid threshold from a household income of $75,000 to $100,000. 

Zhang is looking to focus on health and accessibility: working towards providing Epi-Pens in every dining hall, water fountains in all entryways and increased mental health resources. 

When asked why he wanted to run for YCC President, especially on a solo ticket, Zhang pointed to his upbringing. For much of Zhang’s childhood, he was homeless. 

“Yale was the first real home I had,” he said, highlighting his desire to give back to the school as YCC President. “This position requires so much time, I want to show other FGLI students that they can do it too.” 

Polls for YCC President begin on April 18 at 9 a.m. on YaleConnect and close at 9 p.m. on April 19.

Kaitlyn Pohly is a sophomore in Silliman College. She serves as the Student Life Reporter for the University Desk and previously reported on Student Policy and Affairs. Originally from New York City, Kaitlyn is a History major. Outside of the classroom and the newsroom, Kaitlyn dances with YaleDancers.