Committees to discuss colleges

In the first phase of a formal study on the potential impact of building two new residential colleges, the Yale College Council Executive Board met Tuesday night to review 53 student applications for spots on the committees involved.

The YCC will pare down the 34 applications for the student life committee and 19 applications for the committee on academic resources to a short list of about six to eight candidates each, who will then be called in for extensive interviews on Wednesday and Thursday, YCC officials said. The Council will submit a list of three students for each committee to Levin on Friday. Executive Board members said they will be searching for candidates who have an extensive knowledge of the University’s inner workings, represent a diverse array of campus interests, and can devote significant time and energy to the committees.

YCC Secretary Zach Marks ’09 said the YCC is looking for students who understand the different layers of the University’s administration and the relationships between its different branches, although he said students who have been at Yale longer will not necessarily be given priority over underclassmen.

“We’re putting a lot of emphasis on how well students know this institution, really know the ins and outs of the University,” he said. “Although substantive experience in campus activities and student organizations and working with various aspects of student life are certainly important and easier to acquire over a longer period of time, we’re not discounting younger applicants.”

Students applying for spots on the committee should also have a historical understanding of Yale’s previous attempts to increase the number of residential colleges, including an effort led by former University President Kingman Brewster that ultimately failed because it met resistance from the city, Marks said.

YCC Treasurer Dave Roosth ’09 said the applicants have a history of leadership in a wide variety of campus groups, including cultural organizations, residential college councils, the Yale Student Activities Committee and several student publications. He said the YCC is looking for candidates who are not spread too thin and will be able to devote significant amounts of time to attending to the committee’s work.

“People who have the best understanding of how the University works, like club presidents and the presidents of organizations, people who are big on campus — we’re sort of afraid of them not being able to give the required amount of time to work on what these committees need to do,” Roosth said. “We’re looking at who has the most time on their hands to give most to this discussion.”

Students who have served on previous academic or student life committees or who have first-hand experience with some of Yale’s different departments, such as dining services or retail properties, will be attractive to the Council, Roosth said.

YCC Vice President Steve Engler ’07 said the YCC hopes to pick students who exhibit diversity in class years, courses of study and extracurricular activities. The Council is also looking for candidates of varying genders and ethnic groups, although he said such considerations are less important than the students’ experiences at Yale and knowledge of academics and campus life.

“That’s not going to be a primary objective,” Engler said. “We are going to try to get the best people who are the most informed. That won’t be the reason we choose a candidate by any means.”

The application for spots on the committees asked students three questions: what three issues they thought were most important to the committees’ work, what they have done at Yale or elsewhere to qualify them for selection, and how student committee members can best represent the viewpoints of the student body.

Candidates’ personal demeanors are also important, Marks said. Because student committee members will be working extensively with faculty members and administrators, he said “teamwork and communication skills” will be important considerations when the YCC interviews candidates later this week.

The YCC and the Yale Political Union are co-sponsoring a debate this Thursday on a resolution urging the University to build two new colleges. The debate will conclude with a vote by the assembled members, the result of which will be presented to Levin.

Matt Klein ’09, the floor leader of the Right, said the YPU is holding the debate to raise awareness of an issue that could affect generations of Yale students.

“This is obviously something that will impact student lives,” he said. “The administration is creating two committees to discuss this, so they understand the importance of getting student views … We have to bear in mind how Yale will be for our successors here.”

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