Field takes shape for YCC elections

With time running out before the April 9 filing deadline for Yale College Council Executive Board elections, students contemplating a run have begun finalizing their plans for next week’s contests.

Students are not allowed to engage in public campaigning until Wednesday, but a number of candidates for the six Executive Board positions — president, vice president, secretary, treasurer and chairs of the Yale Student Activities Committee and the Undergraduate Organizations Funding Committee — have already begun generating buzz about their candidacies. It appears at this point that all six races will be competitive, with at least three students likely to throw their hats in the ring for each position.

In upwards of 35 interviews over the weekend with students involved in the YCC, YSAC, the UOFC and the Freshman College Council, only three students — sophomores Katrina Landeta ’10, Harrison Marks ’10 and Rich Tao ’10 — were both mentioned as possible presidential candidates and independently confirmed an interest in running..

Current Vice President Emily Schofield ’09 said Sunday night that she will seek re-election to the post. Morse YCC Representative Julia Bryzgalina ’10 said she is also considering entering the race, as did Silliman YSAC Representative Stanley Yu ’10. Pierson College Representative Matthew Eisen ’10 was the last to confirm Sunday that he is weighing a vice-presidential bid, although he said he has not yet reached a decision.

Eisen is a sports editor for the News.

But nothing is set in stone. Numerous candidates stressed that they are by no means locked into running, and many expressed reservations and suggested reasons they may ultimately decide not to file with the Dean’s Office for next week’s elections.

And more names are likely to come out of the woodwork by Wednesday — last year, several candidates who had not originally expressed interest in running several days before the filing deadline eventually put their names on the ballot.

After serving as the activities chair of the FCC during the 2006- ’07 school year, Landeta this year took over as one of two Branford College representatives to the YCC, where she has worked on issues including gender-neutral housing. In addition to her YCC responsibilities, Landeta serves as co-president of KASAMA: the Filipino Club at Yale and as special-events co-coordinator at the Asian American Cultural Center.

“Yalies want a YCC that not only represents student opinion but also implements student ideas,” Landeta wrote in an e-mail. “The YCC should go beyond working for students; it should be working with students.”

Marks’ prospects, meanwhile, will hinge on his record as YCC treasurer this year. Among the projects he has worked on in that position, Marks said, is the inauguration of a DVD library in Bass Library as part of his Student Development Directive. Marks also said his experience as FCC chair during fall term last year makes qualifies him for the job.

“What’s attractive to me about running for president is the prospect of helping the student body be all it can be,” Marks said. “That’s the basic gist of where I see the YCC going: helping the 5,000 incredible people at Yale to share their ideas with us, following up with them and making sure they get what they want.”

Tao’s most high-profile work this year has come as one of the council representatives responsible for lobbying the University to reduce student self-help contributions in the run-up to Yale’s announcement of financial-aid reforms in January. But the Silliman College representative also points to his record of public service beginning with his arrival at Yale, first as a FCC Representative, then the body’s chair and now a YCC Representative from the same college.

“I see myself as a steward and a representative for the student body,” Tao said. “I was thinking of the projects and proposals I want to bring to the YCC next year and got this gut feeling — this was something I had to do.”

Farther down the ticket, there is a crowded field of candidates seeking to succeed Secretary Dave Narotsky ’09, who said he has no plans to seek an Executive Board position for the 2008-’09 school year. YCC representatives Jasper Wang ’10 and Tomas Rua ’10 said they both intend to put their names on the ballot, and a trio of freshmen are also considering running for the post: FCC Vice-Chair Abigail Cheung ’11, FCC Issues Chair Yaron Schwartz ’11 and former FCC Chair Peter Lu ’11 have all reportedly discussed making bids, although friends of Lu said it is unlikely he will venture a run.

In the race to fill the treasurer post that Marks will leave vacant, YCC Representatives Will Alexander ’10, of Timothy Dwight College, and Jon Wu ’11, of Saybrook College, have both suggested to the News in interviews that they may be interested in running for the position. Morse’s other voice on the council, Sam Shepard ’10, said he is also loosely considering a run for the post, but he has not yet made up his mind. Also weighing that question is Ezra Stiles College Representative Levent Tuzun ’11, who confirmed Sunday he is mulling a run.

For the UOFC Chair, it appears that several members of the current board hope to assume the top spot next year. In interviews with the News, board members mentioned the names of Celina Kirchner ’10, Matthew Marr ’10, Sarah Ong ’11, Anne Xu ’09 and Bryan Twarek ’10 as potential contenders for the chairmanship. From outside the body, YSAC Representative Krystal Flores ’10 confirmed Sunday night that she would seek the post.

Within the ranks of YSAC, only two members have so far expressed an interest in the chairmanship: Spring Fling co-Chair Colin Leatherbury ’09 and Davenport Representative Jon Terenzetti ’10. Outside the committee, Travis Long ’10 and Kristian Henderson ’09 have been mentioned as possible contenders for the position.

Neither Long nor Henderson could be reached for comment Sunday night.

Students can expect a slightly shorter campaign season this year than last, with the official campaign season shortened from 10 days to six, according to the YCC’s official election regulations. Narotsky sent out a campuswide e-mail April 3, laying out this year’s election rules.

After Wednesday’s 3 p.m. deadline for signatures — exactly 100 are required for all six positions — the race will kick off in earnest, with a Saturday afternoon endorsement meeting at which student organizations can choose to publicly support candidates. Six days of public campaigning will follow before online voting opens at 9 a.m. Monday, April 14 on YaleStation.org.

Should a runoff election prove necessary, the second round of voting would run April 17-18.

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