Name: Alan Kennedy-Shaffer
Residential college: Davenport
Class year: 2006
Hometown: Mechanicsburg, Pa.
Major: Political science
Alan Kennedy-Shaffer ’06 has been an active presence on campus since his freshman year. Because of a semi-nude cover shot for Rumpus Magazine and two campaigns for YCC president, nearly every undergraduate on campus recognizes “AKS” — and has a strong opinion about him.
Kennedy-Shaffer cited his visibility as a major asset in his candidacy for president, which he said is based on the theme of making student government more accessible and responsive to students.
“The fact is that I walk into frat parties sometimes, and people start chanting, ‘AKS, AKS, AKS,'” he said. “It’s not derogatory. It’s a combination of admiration and respect. Students know that while I’m controversial, and while I’m ubiquitous, I really do care about students.”
Kennedy-Shaffer has been on the YCC since his freshman year, first as an associate member — a position eliminated by the YCC while he held it — and then as a Davenport College representative since his second semester on campus. In addition to the YCC, he has served as op-ed editor of the Yale Herald, secretary of the Yale Political Union and vice president of the co-ed service fraternity Alpha Phi Omega. He also hosts a political talk show on YTV.
He said his fame on campus would make it easier for him to hear students’ demands for change, whereas previous YCC presidents have been too close to administrators.
“The number one purpose of the YCC is not to cozy up to administrators,” Kennedy-Shaffer said. “The first purpose of the YCC, according to the constitution, is to be the advocate of the student body … to find the issues that matter to students, find solutions to the problems, and present those solutions to the student body.”
Kennedy-Shaffer said he counts financial aid reform, the elimination of dining hall restrictions and an investigation into sexual assault on campus among the issues he has championed. Before an all-organic menu was created for the Berkeley dining hall, Kennedy-Shaffer said he sought to implement the program in Commons where students would have equal access to it.
“As long as one college has food that costs three times as much as the food in other colleges, which we’re paying the same for in room and board, the problem will not go away,” he said.
Bringing “mtvU,” a television channel for college students produced by MTV, to campus is one of Kennedy-Shaffer’s current projects. “mtvU” is similar to the original MTV, but he said its programming has more music videos, segments on college life and time reserved for programming created by Yale students.
Elliot Mogul ’05, YCC president during the 2003-2004 school year, said Kennedy-Shaffer brings many new ideas for student government to the race for president.
“Alan is really motivated and really energetic about what he does,” Mogul said.
But Mogul, who has endorsed Steven Syverud ’06 in this year’s race, said Kennedy-Shaffer is not always able to bring the new ideas he proposes to fruition. Kennedy-Shaffer’s attempts to improve campus security during Mogul’s term did not achieve a “satisfying” result, Mogul said.
“He’s also sometimes difficult to work with because of the way he goes about pursuing his goals,” Mogul said. “I think there might be communication issues.”
But Greg Thomas ’07, Kennedy-Shaffer’s campaign manager, said Kennedy-Shaffer would be an enthusiastic advocate for student interests.
“There’s no one I’ve seen who’s devoted himself to the cause of the YCC as much as Alan has,” Thomas said.
This is Kennedy-Shaffer’s second bid for the YCC presidency. He finished third in a five-way race last year.