Although the dates and campaigning rules for this year’s Yale College Council elections have not yet been announced, the field of candidates for the four positions on the YCC Executive Board has already started to take shape.
It appears that the races for president and vice president are uncontested at this point, as only one candidate for each position has generated noticeable buzz about his candidacy. But the treasurer and secretary contests seem to be more open, with several students expressing interest in the posts. The YCC plans to publicize the schedule and regulations for the election in an e-mail to the student body today.
No student will officially be considered a candidate until he or she files a candidacy statement by the April 13 deadline, YCC Vice President Steve Engler ’07 said.
YCC Secretary Zach Marks ’09 may win the presidency by default if no other candidate decides to challenge him. But Marks said he welcomes other students to the race and is prepared for a competitive campaign. He is proud of the work the YCC has done this year on issues such as reforming the online course evaluation system and bringing attention to the debate about HPV vaccine funding, he said, and he hopes to use the presidency to focus greater attention on financial aid, create a more tolerant campus and improve the New Haven community.
“There is still much work to be done,” he said in an e-mail. “I have earned the respect of my colleagues on the YCC, my peers in the student body, as well as deans, faculty and administrators, and look forward to making the most of these relationships to improve life at Yale and in New Haven.”
Marks ran for secretary unopposed last spring.
Larry Wise ’08 and Rebecca Taber ’08, who were rumored to be possible presidential candidates, said this weekend that they will not be entering the race.
The election for vice president seems to be similarly one-sided at this point, as YCC Treasurer Dave Roosth ’09 is the only candidate generating serious conversation at this point.
Roosth said his experience as treasurer this year and his dealings with administrators about issues such as Spring Fling and a proposed Campus Cash payment system put him in a good position to serve as vice president next year. He said he would like to make an effort next year to prevent the YCC from getting “hung up” on issues over which it has little control, such as financial aid and University environmental policy.
“Things like that are big-picture issues where we can give student opinion and try to sway the administration through conversation,” Roosth said. “But realistically we have very little power in dealing with that … I’m glad we’ve been doing things this year that we can get done, like Ninth at Nite and [Information Technology Systems] reform.”
Roosth was confirmed as treasurer by the YCC in December after Priya Kim Prasad ’08 stepped down to devote more time to academics and other extracurricular activities.
Although the field for the two top YCC positions looks to be thin at this point, it is too early to conclude that Marks or Roosth will run unopposed, Engler said.
“People come out of the woodwork,” he said. “It’s not a clear-cut process as to who is going to run and who is going to win.”
The race to fill Roosth’s seat as treasurer promises to be more competitive. Harrison Marks ’10, who represents Timothy Dwight College on the YCC and served as chair of the Freshman Class Council last semester, said he will likely run for treasurer because he has missed serving in a leadership role since giving up his FCC chair responsibilities at the beginning of the semester.
“I was attracted to the E-Board in general and the treasurer position in particular because I think it has a lot of independence and gives you the chance to learn how Yale works,” he said. “I’m interested in the administrative part of the position and learning about the nuts and bolts of Yale.”
As treasurer, Harrison Marks said he would seek greater student input on how the YCC should spend its money, particularly in terms of the large allocations for Fall Show and Spring Fling, and try to improve the organization’s transparency.
Yale Student Activities Committee member Carrie Nguyen ’09 said she is also considering a run for treasurer and will make up her mind based on how much time her other responsibilities demand throughout the rest of the month. She said she thinks her experience as FCC chair last year and Spring Fling co-coordinator this year give her a solid foundation for a campaign for treasurer.
“A large bulk of the treasurer’s job is to handle the finances for Spring Fling,” Nguyen said. “Since I’ve done that this year as Spring Fling co-chair, I’m familiar with many of the YCC’s financial details, and running for treasurer would be the next logical step for me.”
Nguyen’s co-coordinator, fellow YSAC member Diego Iturbe ’09, said several students have encouraged him to run for vice president, but he is leaning toward a run for secretary. Iturbe said the social aspects of the secretary position — which include acting as the YCC liaison to student publications and other campus groups — fit well with his personality and skill set.
“I really feel that [the YCC] did a good job this year, but I guess I would just want to continue to fortify the relationship between the information that flows in and getting it out to the student body as effectively as possible,” he said. “I think I’ve already established a lot of relationships that would allow me to do that.”
Other potential candidates for secretary include Sophomore Class Council president Ryan Russell ’09, David Narotsky ’09, who represents Saybrook College on the YCC, and Dan Schechner ’10, who represents Morse College on the Council.
Russell said he thinks the SCC has filled an important niche in student government this year by holding class-wide events such as last weekend’s “Sophomore Sophari” dance and a March 28 sophomore advising night. Ensuring the continued viability of the SCC would be a major goal for Russell as secretary, he said.
“It was really tough getting started this year,” Russell said. “I want to see SCC being as consistent as the FCC is now as a staple of student government. I think we have accomplished a lot this year, and I see it being good for sophomores from here on out.”
Created last year, the SCC faced opposition this year from some YCC members who believed that the continued existence of another of the YCC’s “alphabet soup” of different organizations would only create increased confusion. But Russell said SCC members have ironed out their differences with those who questioned the need for the new council.
Narotsky, who would focus on issues of transparency, said he is eyeing the position because he thinks the secretary has the most freedom among Executive Board members to pursue personal projects in the way most representatives do.
“The role of secretary seems like a great way to get into the Executive Board without assuming all of the responsibility right away,” he said.
Schechner said he is considering running for secretary because he thinks the position would offer him the chance to serve as a link between the student body and the University administration and between the Executive board and the rest of the Council.
“From what I’ve heard, before Zach Marks it was more of a glorified minute-taker, and now it has become more of a chief of staff role,” he said. “The secretary has to be connected with all the YCC representatives and … serve as the main link between the board of the YCC and the rest of the delegates.”
Emery Choi ’07 currently serves as YCC president.