When it comes to student government, the more the merrier — at least according to the Yale College Council.
By a vote of 20-6-1 Sunday night, the YCC passed a resolution creating a new advisory committee designed to foster communication between the residential colleges. The body, the Council of Residential College Presidents, will include all 12 residential college council presidents.
“As effective as we think the YCC may be, the residential college councils are also very effective and what they do is very different,” said Matthew Robinson ’03, the author of the resolution. “They have a lot to offer.”
The CRCP, which will meet three times a semester, may pass resolutions by a majority vote; the resolutions will then be passed along to the YCC for consideration.
Each CRCP meeting will be chaired by two residential college presidents, to switch every meeting. A YCC member will serve as both the secretary of the CRCP and a liaison between the two councils.
While the CRCP will report to the YCC, the resolution makes clear that the individual residential college councils will remain independent. The resolution will go into effect pending the approval of three-fourths of the residential college councils.
Three years ago, Robinson said, an informal council of the residential college presidents was formed but dissolved at the end of the year. He said that the council had lots of potential and he wanted to formalize the idea.
Davenport College Council president Sam Hendel ’03 agreed.
“I think it’s a great idea,” Hendel said. “Right now there’s zero communication between college presidents. Last year I was a SAC [student activities committee] chair and the SAC chairs of all the colleges came together to exchange ideas. It was really helpful and the residential college presidents would really benefit from something like that.”
Robinson initially proposed the CRCP as a body with full legislative powers and the ability to pass issues resolutions equal in weight to the YCC.
Some YCC members were concerned that having two equal councils would be redundant and problematic if the councils disagreed on an issue. But Robinson said the CRCP would deal exclusively with issues affecting residential college life and not Yale College life as a whole.
“There is no reason there should ever be any jurisdictional problems between these two councils,” he said.
Robinson said he could foresee the CRCP debating issues including late-night dining hall options, the coordination of residential college days and the establishment of residential college activities during Spring Fling. Additionally, Robinson said debate on residential college funding parity could be a serious and substantial issue for the CRCP to address.
But, other YCC representatives argued, there are some issues — like the perennial debate over summer storage space — that could conceivably fall under the jurisdiction of both councils, creating the possibility that the bodies could pass opposing resolutions. This possibility could present real problems, they said.
“It’s confusing to have two organizations purporting to be the voice of the student body,” YCC President Andrew Allison ’04 said. “What if YCC and CRCP disagree on some issue?ÊWho is the administration supposed to listen to as the voice of the student body?”
Allison proposed the change that was ultimately accepted by the council: the CRCP may pass resolutions but these resolutions must be passed by the YCC before they go into effect.
However, having the CRCP under the umbrella of the YCC has some of the residential college presidents concerned.
“I’m a little afraid for the future,” Hendel said. “What if the YCC ends up taking over the residential college councils?”
YCC Rep. Lenore Estrada ’05 said the YCC was a more appropriate place to pass resolutions than the CRCP, which may include college council presidents who were not elected by their colleges in an at-large election.
“I question whether or not the CRCP would have the jurisdiction to pass issues resolutions,” she said. “At YCC we were elected by our colleges at large. We have a mandate to pass resolutions that affect the students in our college. That’s not true of all the residential college presidents.”