YCC Vice President: Russell pushes involvement in councils

Name: Ryan Russell

College: Calhoun

Year: 2009

Hometown: Newhall, Calif.

Major: Economics

This year, Ryan Russell ’09 hasn’t been too happy with the YCC. First, Russell said, the YCC “dragged its feet” on starting up the Sophomore Class Council, of which he is president. Then, Russell said, YCC members questioned the SCC’s effectiveness in a Yale Daily News story. And when, as head of the SCC, Russell sat in on a YCC meeting, he found its members “stiff and uptight.”

But rather than fighting the YCC, Ryan, one of five candidates for vice president, hopes to join it. Russell, a former member of the Yale varsity basketball team, said he hopes to use his leadership skills to change the culture of the YCC.

Russell discovered a passion for student government this fall. Frustrated with his progress in basketball, Russell received an e-mail announcing SCC elections. Though he had not been involved in student politics at Yale before, Russell said, he wanted to try something new.

“I realized I was better with people than with a basketball,” he said.

At the SCC’s helm, Russell said, he has been proud of the organization’s achievements. This year, the SCC ran a highly successful game of “Sophomore Assassins,” planned a sophomore advising night and organized a matchmaking program called “Sophomore Soulmates,” he said. With funding from the Committee for Campuswide Activites, the SCC recently threw a large party at the Center Street Lounge. The SCC did all of this, Russell said, despite both minimal funding and YCC aid.

The key to the SCC’s success has been its focus on getting more people involved in the organization, Russell said. As a candidate for YCC vice president, Russell hopes to get more students involved in the YCC.

“The more people we get involved in student government, the better the results are going to be,” he said.

Creating strong class councils like the SCC or a junior class council will also allow the YCC to be more effective, Russell said.

“It takes a lot off YCC’s plate when we have an SCC that can handle sophomore advising or a junior class council that can coordinate UCS issues with juniors,” Russell said. “It opens the door for the YCC to focus on class-wide issues.”

Reid Whittman ’09, who worked with Russell in the SCC and is also his campaign manager, said Russell’s focus on increasing involvement in student government makes him unique among the vice-presidential candidates.

“Ryan cares about people that have something to say, but are just not being heard right now,” Whittman said. “This University is one of the best in the country for a reason, but if ideas aren’t being heard, then nothing is going to get done that the community wants.”

Although he has relatively little experience in student government, Russell said his leadership abilities can compensate for his lack of political experience.

“I may not have the experience with student government that some of the other candidates have, but I was basically thrown to the lions with the SCC, I had to do everything,” he said. “I think that bodes very well for the vice presidency.”

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