A year ago, five Yale College Council officers won their positions on pledges that ranged from a better spring fling to a greener University.
Though officers did not fulfill all their promises, the outgoing 2002-03 YCC administration pointed to many advancements in student life and changes in how the YCC ran as successes of the year. But YCC members agreed the council remains isolated from much of the student body, a problem particularly notable in the poorly-attended April 13 YCC officer debates.
As a candidate last year, YCC President Andrew Allison ’04 promised dining hall reform, a spring fling reflecting campus wishes, University policy reform, environmental work and YCC policy reform. Allison said this year’s YCC differed from past administrations because it did not bog itself down with larger university issues.
To an extent, Allison has stuck to his platform. Led by Undergraduate Organizations Fundraising Committee Chair Elliott Mogul ’05, the YCC successfully lobbied the dining halls into instituting the two-swipes-before-dinner policy. In addition, Matt Nickson ’03 won his campaign for the switch to free-trade coffee. The YCC also managed to stage a Jimmy Fallon concert, and spent a large portion of the fall debating internal reform.
“What didn’t happen this year? We didn’t attack any larger student issues like financial aid or diversity on the staff,” Allison said. “We were more interested in getting the bread-and-butter student issues accomplished.”
But YCC Vice President Ryan Sheely ’04 said if he could have changed one thing about the year, it would be the dense concentration on one of Allison’s platforms: YCC reform.
“We spent a lot of time debating internal reforms,” Sheely said. “It was important, but it took up a lot of time. I would focus more time on working on issues concerning the student body.”
Still, the YCC’s increased interest in social and environmental awareness has grown. Supporting proposals regarding green tags, an organic farm, fair-trade coffee, feeding the homeless and the denunciation of hate crimes on campus, the YCC focused on more than just concerts and dining halls.
“We’ve picked our battles really well,” Sheely said. “We managed to get things done without resolutions.”
While there are no more Flex locations around campus than there were a year ago and late-night dining has now moved onto president-elect Mogul’s platform for the coming months, some students said they don’t care that these promises have not come to fruition.
But several YCC officer candidates this year reiterated the notion that the YCC does nothing significant and that it is largely ignored by the campus population.
In her candidacy statement, UOFC Chair candidate Katrina Gipson ’04 declared she wanted to push issues beyond soap and toilet paper. Treasurer candidates Lenore Estrada ’05 and Tre Borden ’06 made similar disparaging remarks about the YCC in their campaigns as well, saying that the YCC did nothing and that no one cared who ran it anyhow.
“We’ve spent some time doing worthwhile things like Winter Ball, a Native American Ethnic Counselor, a fairer swiping policy, and Spring Fling,” a YCC member said. “But we’ve also wasted time on pretty inane things like a police ride-along and our attendance policy. It also feels like some people on this council speak just to hear the melodious sounds of their own voices. All in all, I would give us a B in terms of effectiveness.”
YCC members also pointed to other problems. Their environmental resolutions have not convinced the University to adopt a new, more eco-friendly stance. The UOFC, while it now has more funding, also experienced funding problems during the year.
In addition, YCC members said the highly-controversial elimination of the office of associate was a waste of time. But even those who did not originally support the decision are pleased with its results.
“The association resolution has benefited the council in a lot of ways,” Allison said. “The council’s running seems more efficient to me.”
For its criticisms, YCC member Lee Hiromoto ’05 said students should recognize the YCC’s efforts.
“When students attempt to discredit the YCC for not doing enough, they often fail to understand the political and bureaucratic intricacies of effecting change at a place like Yale,” Hiromoto said. “We spend three hours of our weeks — at least as much as a class would meet — trying to improve student life.”