This year’s Yale College Council is looking to put the finishing touches on its merger with the Yale Student Activities Committee, even as it juggles a full plate of student advocacy issues.
This year’s YCC set out a fall agenda on Sunday that aims to continue the YCC’s work on academic minors, gender-neutral housing and discussion-section improvement. In its role as campus events planner, the YCC hopes to debut a “Homecoming” week before the Harvard-Yale football game and roll out a concert or comedy act for which students can exchange community service hours for event tickets.
In addition, the YCC’s director of events — a new position that takes the place of the YSAC chair — will oversee annual events such as the Fall Show and Mr. Yale, along with popular additions from recent years such as Iron Chef at Yale and the YCC’s “Party Train” to Manhattan.
The largest change to this year’s council is its structure, which changed last spring when the YCC and YSAC voted to dissolve YSAC and merge it with the YCC. That shift meant students this year voted for one “events” representative and one “issues” representative from each residential college. But that distinction will only last a year — next fall students will return to the format of electing two undesignated YCC representatives from each college. The merger of the two bodies aimed to smooth out perceived inefficiencies in how the YCC and YSAC overlapped in the planning of events such as Spring Fling.
At Sunday’s meeting, the YCC created eight project groups; last year’s YCC had six. Project group members will take responsibility for specific agenda items, which range from implementing a bike share program to overseeing the Student Development Directive, a pool of funds the YCC dedicates each year to a project voted on by the student body. Project groups will dedicate themselves either to events-related agenda items or issues-related agenda items and representatives will serve on project groups in accordance with their designation as events or issues representatives.
That format is a break from years past, when executive board members led project group work on each agenda item. Director of Events Mathilde Williams ’11 said the revised system traces its origins to YSAC, on which Williams served last year.
“I think that’s a great thing because it really lets people step up and do what they like to do,” Williams said. “But that way there’s more responsibility taken, and that’s what I liked about YSAC.”
At three pages long, the YCC’s 2009-’10 agenda includes an evaluation of Yale’s student services — such as security and Yale Dining — and an initiative to lower student textbook costs. And for the third time in as many years, this year’s council will appraise student satisfaction with Yale’s financial aid policies. Although last year’s council made several recommendations to improve financial aid, no changes were made amidst the financial crisis.
“You’ll notice we have a very ambitious agenda for this year,” Wu said.
This month council members will continue to meet with individual professors to persuade them in favor of implementing academic minors, an issue for which they advocated strongly in a report sent to administrators last spring. The faculty will vote on the issue sometime this fall.
The council will also weigh in in favor of implementing gender-neutral housing. After the administration voted to table the issue for further study last March, the YCC formed a project group to analyze the issue themselves. This year’s project group will continue that advocacy.
Following up on a survey of undergraduates last spring, one project group will continue to examine student thoughts on the quality of sections and teaching fellows and brainstorm and advocate ways to solve any problems they find.