Abigail Cheung ’11 wants people to talk to her — and she promises to listen to them, saying her experience and patience will serve her well as the Yale College Council vice president.
“I’m really receptive to hearing what other people have to say,” she said Wednesday. “I try to channel my efforts into helping them.”
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Cheung identified Yale’s student body as the YCC’s most valuable resource. Talking to other students has always shaped her YCC contributions, including the Yale Votes! panel series and registration drive, dances and financial aid initiatives, she said.
“Everyone here has something amazing to bring to the table,” she said.
Coming to Yale from Vancouver, Canada, Cheung speaks three languages and participates in a Dwight Hall language development initiative and the women’s crew team, among other activities.
Cheung has served as Freshman Class Council vice chair, a Timothy Dwight representative to YCC this year and Sophomore Class Council liaison to the YCC, spending many hours in YCC committees. Cheung made an unsuccessful bid for YCC secretary in last year’s elections.
Mindful that the YCC vice president runs the council’s internal affairs, Cheung said she has accumulated a thorough knowledge of its workings and a sense of the issues that matter. She speaks about policy, events and administrative issues with equal passion. In a world without a Yale Student Activities Committee, she said, she would push YCC to dedicate more effort to planning events.
“Issues can’t be publicized without a lot of events,” she said.
Cheung said her experience in both policy and event planning differentiates her from opponent Brian Levin ’11, whom she described as being “really engaged on policy issues.” Although she was reluctant to criticize Levin, she said she had committed herself more fully to project committees than Levin has.
“I think he’s kind of failed to look at the other side of YCC and hasn’t really been involved in events planning,” she said. “I think I’ve already gotten the mentality of focusing on events.”
Levin maintained Thursday night that he has played a significant role in event planning and that, moreover, his policy experience is more substantive.
On the policy side, Cheung singled out academic minors, gender-neutral housing and financial aid reform as ongoing priorities. As an international student, she said, she is dedicated to reducing self-help hours and increasing travel allowances in student aid packages.
Despite her commitment to policy work, Cheung said she believes it is the president’s role to lead policy initiatives. She envisions the vice president mediating discussions, reaching out to students and helping other YCC officers.
“I see myself as being a really good support person,” she said — one reason, she added, for her decision to run for vice president and not for president.
Cheung’s suitemate Lynn Wang ’11 described Cheung as patient and genuinely interested in helping everyone she meets, citing one occasion on which Cheung stepped in, unasked, to help her organize a banquet, though Cheung did not belong to the organization and was overloaded with work.
Cheung is a double major in international studies and political science.