The Yale College Council presidential candidates faced off at a Yale Political Union-sponsored debate Wednesday night, delving into a range of issues including dining hall transfer restrictions, student health and financial aid reforms.
Three of the four candidates — R. David Edelman ’07, Alan Kennedy-Shaffer ’06 and Steven Syverud ’06 — agreed changes were needed to dining hall transfer policies and student health services, but presented different plans for implementing change. The candidates also expressed different visions for the planning of Spring Fling and the distribution of funds generated by the new $50 student activities fee that will be added to undergraduate tuition this fall.
The fourth candidate, Sam Penziner ’07, who is running on the Rumpus ticket, made an opening statement but left before the rounds of questions began. He said he walked out of the debate because he felt that he was being unfairly treated by the moderator.
With regard to student activities, Edelman said he wanted to direct money toward grants for new student groups rather than a Fall Show. He said he agreed with the current outline to allocate the student activities fee.
But Syverud said he would raise the maximum amount of money that can be given to a student group to $800*, as well as give $40,000 to club sports. He also said he would form a committee to root out existing funding inadequacies and redress them.
Kennedy-Shaffer said he would like to resurrect the YCC’s Fall Show, as well as improve the quality of the Spring Fling bands — going as far as to suggest Tupac Shakur, who died in 1996, as a possible Spring Fling act.
On the issue of dining halls, Kennedy-Shaffer said he was in favor of abolishing all restrictions.
“You have the right to eat in any dining hall you want,” he said.
But both Edelman and Syverud stressed the need to address the larger issue of dining hall inequality. Both also proposed opening Commons on Sundays and opening the Hall of Graduate Studies dining hall on weekends to avoid overcrowding.
While the candidates all expressed approval for the University’s recent changes to undergraduate financial aid, each had different suggestions on what should be done to improve financial aid in the future. Edelman said he would work to have summer self-help contributions waived for students on financial aid pursuing unpaid internships. Kennedy-Shaffer said he wants to make the process of applying for aid simpler and easier, while Syverud proposed focusing on the recruitment of high-achieving students from low-income schools.
“We can really change the kind of kids who come to Yale,” Syverud said.
Both Syverud and Kennedy-Shaffer criticized University Health Services policies regarding sexual assault, and said they would work with administrators to fight under-reporting of statistics for such crimes. Syverud also said he would continue to push for the appointment of a committee to review the University’s current policy and resources.
Edelman’s also criticized UHS, mentioning specialized services, urgent care and women’s services as areas he would target for expansion and reform.
“UHS is broken,” Edelman said. “UHS is a problem.”
Sandwiched between the question-and-answer period and the candidates’ final statements, the candidates took part in a “Physical Challenge,” in which they competed to catch party favors launched from a catapult in small bowls taped to their heads. In addition, they were given a small amount of time to collect as many pairs of pants from the audience as possible. Edelman — the only candidate to successfully garner a pair of pants — was declared the victor in the contest, which was organized by the Progressive Party.
*This article has been corrected. In the original version of this story, it was stated that Syverud was seeking to raise the maximum amount of money that can be given to a student group to $8,000.