For Tao, ‘pragmatic solutions’ would be key

If he were to be Yale College Council president next year, Richard Tao ’10 would forge a “working relationship” with the Yale administration — something he said currently does not exist.

As president, Tao said he would continue the structural changes that current president Rebecca Taber ’08 put into place this year — initiative-based project teams, for example — and follow the general direction of her tenure. He plans to focus on furthering financial-aid initiatives, improving “community building” and including student representatives on every student-life based subcommittee created by the administration.

A subcommittee that analyzed the possibility of gender-neutral housing, for example — and issue Tao said he is passionate about — did not have a student representative.

“It was outrageous,” Tao said.

He added, “I will push for a seat at the table [for all committees] and from there, I would work towards that working relationship.”

As a YCC representative this year, Tao worked to elicit student feedback on the Yale financial-aid program. Using the data he gathered from a student poll, he submitted a report to the Yale administration that analyzed the data and, after a request from Yale College Dean Peter Salovey, Tao and the committee he was working with ran another student poll.

Tao said, as president, he would continue soliciting student opinion on financial aid and analyze the long-term effects of the current financial-aid reform.

“I’ve met with [Director of Student Financial Services] Caesar Storlazzi five or six times in the past,” Tao said. “We already discussed how we want to approach the thing next year.”

Next year, Tao said he hopes to engage in cooperative discussion with the administration on issues beyond financial aid, something he believes he can do with the necessary finesse.

“I’m not coming into the [Yale College Dean’s Office] and demanding radical change and taking an extreme opinion,” Tao said.

In the past, administrators have sometimes been “unresponsive” to YCC feedback, he said, but his goal would be to work to make the Yale administration more receptive to the YCC’s opinions.

In terms of community building, Tao advocates for gender-neutral housing and gender-binding categorizations on Yale administrative forms — which has a sex selection of only male and female.

He also wants to work with the administration to host more multicultural events for students to become better global citizens, he said.

Having served as political chair for the Chinese American Student Association and member of the Political Action and Education committee for the Asian American Students Association, Tao is also a staunch supporter of cultural issues,

On the Freshman College Council, Tao served as chair his second semester. He worked on examining the Big Sib program in residential colleges and helped start the annual end-of-year freshman address. As part of the YCC, he worked on dining-hall reform and expanding the BRED program — which sends day-old bread from stores like Au Bon Pain and Atticus Cafe to the homeless.

Born in Nanjing, China, he moved to Michigan for schooling. In high school, he was a member of the track and field team, captained the speech and debate team and served on the student government as class representative.

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