I write in response to David Broockman’s letter “YCC missed an opportunity to lead” (March 5) in order to clarify and defend the role the YCC has taken in the movement for gender-neutral housing. Although I appreciate Broockman’s concern for gender-neutral housing, as a second-year representative of the YCC, I can confidently say he has misplaced his time and efforts in criticizing the Council’s role in this movement and has belittled the efforts of many other students and student groups.
The YCC’s involvement in the question of gender-neutral housing dates back to December 2007, when the LGBTQ Student Cooperative (the “Co-Op”) requested our support for their efforts on behalf of gender-neutral housing, and we responded by forming a committee to this effect. The following month, January 2008, we generated a resolution in support of gender-neutral housing that was approved by YCC members in a 15-3 vote and forwarded to members of Yale’s administration. Thus, contrary to Broockman’s claim, this resolution did not originate this semester but rather more than a year ago.
More importantly, despite Broockman’s assertion that the YCC has failed to “actively mobilize student support for its proposals as they are submitted,” this resolution’s submission and all ensuing measures carried out by the YCC were done in close conjunction with the Co-Op, the student group most heavily involved in the current protests. Had Broockman approached the coordinators of the Co-Op, he could have easily ascertained this fact.
Beyond just partnering with the Co-Op, however, the YCC has worked hard to promote the cause of gender-neutral housing among the student population. Indeed, because of these efforts and those also of the Co-Op, gender-neutral housing has been a leading topic of student discussion for months. As early as last April, the News, in its article “Gender-neutral housing explored” (April 2), recognized the efforts of the YCC and the Co-Op in this regard and noted the consequent spike in student sentiment favoring gender-neutral housing had spurred the administration to form an Ad Hoc Committee to consider the matter. This committee, I might remind Broockman, after conducting interviews with multiple students and student groups, actually recommended Yale adopt a gender-neutral housing option for juniors and seniors. Furthermore, in response to the Committee’s recommendations, the Council of Masters further endorsed the notion of gender-neutral housing. Thus, it appears the efforts of the apparently “untapped” students referred to by Broockman have actually elicited significant and positive action within the administration.
Naturally, the YCC, like Broockman, is greatly disappointed by the decision of the Officers of the University to put any implementation of gender-neutral housing on hold. I remind everyone, however, that this decision should not be seen as a rejection of the concept of gender-neutral housing but rather a hesitation over how best to institute it within the constraints of Yale’s residential college system. Though frustrating, this is an opportunity for student groups, with the full backing of the YCC, to make their voices heard and encourage the Officers of the University to overcome the very institutional inertia to which Broockman refers.
Rather than criticize the efforts Yale’s student groups have put forth to bring about gender-neutral housing’s implementation, we need to celebrate them and continue to build on them, as we already have this week through Facebook groups and protests on Cross Campus. As I write, in fact, the YCC is working hard to ensure students be included in the decision-making process of Dean Miller’s recently announced task force on gender-neutral housing, thereby allowing student opinion to be directly heard in that forum.
I will conclude by reminding Broockman of the YCC’s purpose. We are an elected body of students intended to serve as a liaison between the student body and the administration in representing the former group’s concerns to the latter. Though we have close ties to the student population and student groups, it is not our place to oversee and spur all forms of student activism, nor could we possibly devote the resources or time to such a task. Broockman’s claim that the fault for students not engaging in protests prior to this week is “entirely the YCC’s” is thus ludicrous.
Broockman is right to suggest that the YCC should mobilize student support when possible for its proposals. I hope I have demonstrated that that is precisely what the YCC, with the valuable aid of the Co-Op, has done and will continue to do.
Tomas Rua is a junior in Trumbull College and a representative to the Yale College Council.