Elis picked to advise on colleges

The Yale College Council has finalized the list of six students who will serve on the committees charged with exploring the possibility of two new residential colleges, YCC Secretary Zach Marks ’09 said.

Alice Shyy ’08, Emily Weissler ’09 and Larry Wise ’08 will serve on the student life committee, and Jonny Dach ’08, Lauren Russell ’09 and Jesse Wolfson ’07 will work on the academic resources committee, Marks said. The committee members said integrating the new colleges into the existing Yale College community, securing the support of New Haven residents and preserving students’ academic experiences will be among their concerns as they begin their work.

The list of students, which was finalized Friday, represents a good cross section of Yale’s numerous activities and academic interests, Marks said.

“They each have unique experiences which make them attuned to the way the University runs,” Marks said. “There are more student organizations than you could possibly imagine and more niches of undergraduate life at Yale than you can imagine. We really think these students capture a wide range of that.”

He pointed to the experiences Shyy, Wise and Weissler have had with campus environmental groups, club sports and Dwight Hall organizations, respectively. Among the students on the academic resources committee, Marks said, Wolfson is a mathematics and literature double major, and Russell is involved in a five-year program at the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.

Ensuring that students in the new colleges — which would be located behind the Grove Street Cemetery — do not feel isolated from central campus will be important as the committees begin their investigation, Shyy said. The groups will have to assess the “shock value” that moving the heart of campus northward could have on student life, she said.

“What is important for me as a student, from my perspective, is making sure we maintain the precious balance of having a home in the residential colleges and having a community in Yale as a larger system,” Shyy said.

Weissler said the student life committee should also consider the impact on New Haven before going forward with the plan. The University should consider holding an open forum at the Dixwell-Yale University Community Learning Center to gauge neighborhood reaction to the proposal, she said.

“We should be sure we’re working with residents of Dixwell as well as the broader New Haven community to make sure we are not stepping on anyone’s toes,” Weissler said. “It would be important, since we have the alderman system, to reach out to aldermen in the community.”

A campus-wide survey and more open forums like that hosted by the YCC last week would be useful means of soliciting student input on the expansion, Weissler said.

On the academic side, Yale should ensure that the addition of two new colleges would not lessen its ability to devote resources to individual students, Russell said. She said the addition of several hundred more students could overburden professors who are already very busy.

“One of the great assets of Yale is the individual attention it gives to students,” Russell said. “With an influx of students, those things could go by the wayside. It’s already difficult as it is to get into a [political science] seminar or have that small class size.”

Russell said she will talk to people in the various campus groups she is involved in — including the Roosevelt Institution and the Afro-American Cultural Center — in order to get a sense of what issues are most important to students.

Encouraging more students to take science classes will be an important consideration for the academic resources committee, given the potential colleges’ location at the base of Science Hill, Dach said.

University President Richard Levin said the students chosen by the YCC, several of whom he knows, will make an essential contribution to the committees’ deliberations.

“I think students will have a different perspective from the faculty on the committee, and that point of view is important for both sides,” he said. “I thought the questions asked at the YCC event last week were very thoughtful and reflected that students have a number of concerns about this but are also very interested in trying to figure it out.”

Russell said the academic resources committee will meet for the first time Friday with Levin and Dean of Undergraduate Education Joseph Gordon. The student life committee will also hold its first meeting Friday, Weissler said.

Comments