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JON WU ’11Jon Wu ’11 spent the bulk of this week writing his platform, posting signs around campus and working tirelessly to organize his campaign for YCC president. But in the midst of the campaign circus, Wu wasn’t too busy to help out a friend in her time of need.
This weekend, Wu was working on his campaign in the Saybrook suite of his friend Pam Brown ’11 when they spotted a mouse run into Brown’s room.
“I flipped out. He put everything down and spent an hour helping me search through my room,” Brown said. “It was an hour less sleep he got that night, which was bad because he’s been killing himself working on the campaign. But he was still absolutely willing to take the shuttle with me to Walgreens at 3 a.m. to get an ultrasonic rodent control unit.”
Wu’s friends, including Brown, say this caring streak — along with the humor and unbridled enthusiasm of the “Wu’s the One that I Want” campaign video and the neon yellow campaign signs which simply exclaim “Wu!” — are all integral parts of the candidate’s personality. But the policy platform at the root of Wu’s highly energetic campaign is surprisingly serious.
“I am a serious candidate, and though I may not take myself seriously, I take YCC very seriously,” Wu said in response to charges from his opponent Ryan Beauchamp ’10 that he is taking a more policy-oriented approach than Wu.
Wu has chosen to emphasize his two years of YCC experience: his knowledge of the organization and his ability to provide students with tangible evidence of YCC’s work.
“As YCC treasurer, it was really my main goal to lower everyday student costs and improve student life,” Wu said.
Wu, who spearheaded the YCC initiative to distribute free planners and notebooks on campus, said the projects like these are necessary to keep YCC visible and relevant.
Connecticut Supreme Court Justice Flemming Norcott, Wu’s professor from “Blacks and the Law,” said he was impressed by Wu’s event-planning prowess when Norcott agreed to speak at last year’s Eli Days, the kickoff event of a mentoring program for high school students.
“That was a miracle in itself, just getting me out of the office,” Norcott said.
Wu will continue with his current YCC strategy of balancing long-term policy projects with small perks for students if elected. Gender-neutral housing has been a policy project of Wu’s since he cosponsored last year’s YCC gender-neutral housing resolution. A member of the project’s ad-hoc committee, Wu said it will be the new YCC president’s duty to continue pursuing gender-neutral housing.
“As a YCC representative, your main mission is to represent the students, and when you have such popular support for an initiative such as gender-neutral housing, it is your responsibility to advocate for those students,” Wu said. “It is the president’s role to be that advocate.”
Wu also hopes to increase YCC transparency and accountability by creating an institutional record-keeping system for individual policy project groups in the vein of the more exhaustive YCC policy reports, including those sent via e-mail message to the student body this week.
Under the current system, groups sum up their activities in less than a minute or two at weekly YCC meetings, and the student body is often unaware that YCC is working on these projects at all, Wu said.
“If we can keep records on projects — our progress, their histories, what we hope to achieve, roadblocks — we’ll be able to better track over time what the role of the YCC should be,” Wu said.
Vidur Sehgal ’11, a YCC representative from Ezra Stiles College, expressed concern about the effect of such a system on the ability of a YCC representative to speak freely in policy project meetings.
“While on the outside, a move to increase transparency seems like a good idea, I know that representatives will be more open to expressing their opinions if they know they aren’t being quoted,” Sehgal said.
If elected, Wu said he plans to follow in the footsteps of current YCC President Rich Tao and serve only one term. Wu said that if his campaign is unsuccessful, he hopes to serve next year’s YCC as an adviser to the treasurer.
RYAN BEAUCHAMP ’10
Ryan Beauchamp ’10 is running for Yale College Council President as the outsider’s insider.
Beauchamp said the introduction of academic minors and gender-neutral housing are at the top of students’ minds, and therefore his agenda. No one interviewed who know him question his earnestness and dedication to serving the Yale community — he has served as treasurer of the Sophomore Class Council and is the chairman of this year’s Junior Class Council — but some on YCC have raised questions as to how new and realistic some of his proposals are.
Beauchamp characterized his campaign as a conversation with students and said he champions strong student involvement.
“The best way to motivate students is to give them more responsibilities,” Beauchamp said. “When people are a bigger part of something, they take more interest in it.”
A potential newcomer to the Yale College Council, Beauchamp said he hopes to use his years of experience on other student body organizations to represent the interests of students. He said he did not “realize [he] wanted to do student advocacy” until this year, which made him want to run for YCC.
“I got involved with SCC and JCC because they were meant to bring about class unity,” Beauchamp said. “There was a gap in those years, a lack of traditions. I wanted to help start those traditions.”
Suitemate Nicholas Bird ’10 said that — even before Beauchamp announced his candidacy — Beauchamp often held casual conversations with friends about issues that affected them, what changes could be made and his own frustrations.
“Ryan is one of the most earnest people I know,” Bird said, “and that means he’s running for all the right reasons.”
Opponent and current YCC Treasurer Jon Wu ’11 has made the election a question of experience and is hoping that his year of service on the YCC’s Executive Board will make him a more attractive candidate.
Passion, friends and colleagues said, allowed Beauchamp to reinvigorate both the SCC and JCC. In those roles, Beauchamp developed and coordinated Sophomore and Internship Advising Nights, along with a video game tournament as a fundraiser for Relay for Life.
Beauchamp said he has big plans for improving Yale’s music scene. He hopes to hold a high-profile Spring Fling concert and introduce a Winter Music Festival featuring emerging musicians.
As promising as the music scene sounds, some current YCC officials have serious questions about some of Beauchamp’s other proposals.
For example, Beauchamp hopes to create weekly feedback sessions where students and organizations can interact with YCC representatives. But two current YCC officials, who could not comment publicly because they are serving on the election committee, said YCC tried such a program three years ago. YCC made its representatives available for specific office hours, the YCC members said; no one came, and the sessions were cancelled.
Beauchamp said he is aware of past failures, but he claims the initiatives faltered because they lacked the full support of the YCC. With strong support and a sharp focus, he said, student liaison and feedback programs can thrive.
As for Beauchamp’s promise to enhance financial aid, council members questioned what more could be done after the University’s major aid overhaul two years ago. Beauchamp said he thinks there is still room for improvement: travel stipends should rise and student contributions should fall, he said.
Finally, Beauchamp has pledged to try to reform student dining options. He suggested allowing swipes in places such as Durfee’s. But YCC officials described that option as clearly off the table. YCC officials said they found documents from over a decade ago listing a similar set of grievances that had yet to be resolved.
“Time after time we go back to dining and nothing gets done,” YCC Vice President Emily Schofield ’09 said.
Beauchamp insists that everything he has promised can be achieved.
“It takes continuing pressure,” Beauchamp said. “If you stop, you guarantee that nothing will get done.”