Wu keeping busy — with other extracurriculars, too

Jon Wu ’11 is more than the Yale College Council president. He is a werewolf.

Or at least he will portray one in this weekend’s production of “Twilight: The Britney Musical.” Unlike his predecessor, Wu is one YCC president who has not given up on his other extracurriculars, such as theater and improv. Still, YCC representatives say he manages to balance it all.

Wu’s continued participation in activities outside YCC is a break with last year’s example. Rich Tao ’10, last year’s president, said he did not engage in anything other than the student government during his tenure, spending 20 to 40 hours per week on board-related work. He added, however, that the time commitment is variable, depending on personal efficiency and the scope of the government’s agenda.

Wu said he works about 2 hours a day (the equivalent of 14 hours a week) on YCC-related duties, but that he constantly thinks about how to improve the organization. Asked if he has enough time to effectively run YCC, Wu said “definitely”: he puts in the necessary time for everything he does.

“I’m very committed to everything I do,” he added. “I put as much energy as I can into Yale College Council.”

Wu has maintained his membership in extracurriculars, namely, theater productions such as “Twilight,” and the sketch comedy group Red Hot Poker. Red Hot Poker director Kristin Heintz ’11 said Wu is still devoted to the group, despite his other commitments. In fact, he was the rush manager for its 75 students who auditioned this fall.

“I think Jon is perhaps the most integral member of Red Hot Poker,” she said.

Wu said that he now participates in fewer extracurriculars outside of class than he did during his freshman or sophomore years, but that he has continued doing shows because he enjoys the people.

And they enjoy him. Twilight director Ari Berkowitz ’12 said Wu is possibly the show’s most devoted cast member.

“He’s a pretty big deal,” she added. “He’s the only one who, after seeing him do his song over and over again, everyone still laughs.”

There is an element of anonymity, however, between the YCC and Yale students. Though part of Wu’s campaign platform was transparency in the student government — an initiative, he added, on which YCC Secretary Mike Bronfin ’11 has taken the lead with efforts such as publishing weekly meeting minutes online — of the nine students interviewed, all said they were largely unaware of the YCC’s current projects.

Graham Hardt ’11 said that, beyond last Saturday’s Fall Comedy Show and the bike-share program, he had not heard much about the 2009-’10 board, adding that he thought it was less present than in previous years.

Not that Wu isn’t aware.

“No matter what we do, YCC is always judged on the quality of Spring Fling,” Wu said.

It’s a situation that Wu doesn’t mind – “I enjoy Spring Fling,” he said – and one that has been streamlined after YCC’s absorption of the Yale Student Activities Committee this year. A resolution last April joined the two organizations, a move that Wu said allows the student government to work on larger policy issues while also remaining present on campus with events and activities.

Tao said, however, that it may be too soon to judge.

“It’s a bit early to engage in an evaluation,” he said in an e-mail Thursday. “I think they are off to a good start, having planned a few great campus-wide events.”

But it also makes for an especially large board. The 30 members — along with eight non-elected associate members — barely fit into the Branford Mendell room, where YCC meets on Sunday afternoons.

Wu has been unafraid to tackle the board’s large size, he said. To remedy anonymity among YCC members, for example, the president set up quizzes with members’ names and faces on Sporcle.com. The winner received a ticket to a Maroon 5 concert.

Vice President Abigail Cheung ’11 agreed that Wu has been an effective president so far, citing his hard work in planning the Fall Comedy Festival and the bike-share program, which both debuted this past weekend. But Wu doesn’t contend that he keeps his YCC life and his comedy life separate. In fact, he believes that his involvement in Red Hot Poker has given this year’s YCC a different atmosphere than in the past.

“It’s a more lighthearted feel,” he said.

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