YCC sets its sights high

The Yale College Council will work to establish an academic minors program, improve freshman advising and enhance the transparency of council’s budget over the course of the spring semester; the YCC is set to announce in a progress report due out today.

The proposals are among many the YCC voted to include in its spring agenda, approved Sunday and planned for release to the student body today. The 40-page report, accompanied by a one-page bulleted summary, details work the council did during the fall semester, lays out goals for the spring and makes public the council’s nearly $160,000 budget.

The agenda is sweeping; YCC members expressed confidence that goals would be met and gave a realistic appraisal of potential snafus that could hamper some proposals.

“It’s a pretty ambitious agenda,” said YCC President Rich Tao ’10. “It’s a lot of stuff. I think the biggest challenge is to get most of it done in the span of a very short period of time.”

Work on academic minors will continue through the second semester. Tao said he plans to submit a report on the proposal, compiled last semester, to the Committee on Majors this weekend. The council began work on the issue after a campuswide poll in November showed that 85 percent of poll respondents expressed interest in pursuing an academic minor.

After submitting the report, Tao said, he hopes to follow up with the committee, as well as with various other administrators and department heads to continue advocating for and hopefully reach some sort of consensus on implementing minors.

The council will also open a new issue: increasing professor-led discussion time and working to foster teaching assistant accountability.

“There is disparity among sections and the actual classes in terms of teaching quality and I think it’s something we want to look into,” Tao said. “We want to gauge student opinions about sections and TAs in general.”

In addition to planning major events such as Spring Fling, YCC also plans to leave room in its budget for smaller events akin to last semester’s Iron Chef, YCC Vice President Emily Schofield ’09 said. YSAC tentatively expects to spend $100,000 recruiting artists for the end-of-year festival, and has budgeted an additional $36,000 for production costs, the report reads, a figure slightly less than last year’s which reflects student desire to allot more funds to smaller events

YCC Treasurer Jon Wu ’11 said he thought the agenda, especially projects that dealt with policy recommendations, could face unforeseen challenges. He recalled last year’s Eli Bucks proposal that seemed on track for administrative approval until the Yale Counsel’s Office decided to table the idea.

“With policy projects,” he said, “there are always impediments you don’t see.”

But Tao added that he thought that the YCC could work efficiently this semester because of the foundations laid with administrators during the first semester.

Wu and YCC Secretary Jasper Wang ’10 also added that eliminating unnecessary expenditures would be a main priority for the semester. In that vein, Wu said, the council will be publishing its budget for the first time in the council’s history.

“We want to let the students know how their money is being spent because this money essentially comes from the student activities fee,” Wu said. “Especially in this economic climate our goal is to cut unnecessary expenditures.”

Current ideas for additional, minor events include organizing another “party train” to Manhattan or hosting a student game show similar to “The Price is Right.”

“We’re going to offer a wider variety of smaller events instead of putting all our eggs in one basket with just a few events because that’s the best way to appeal to the broadest range of students,” Schofield said.

“I think both myself and almost everybody else that ran for the executive board last April all ran on different platforms,” Tao said, “But I think the central theme of all our platforms was increasing transparency of the YCC.”

Schofield noted that last year’s council made a similar attempt at transparency. Former YCC President Rebecca Taber ’08, Schofield said, compiled a YCC website with information similar to that contained in the report.

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