When asked how she thinks she is perceived around campus, Courtney Pannell ’11 said she would divide the campus into two polar groups.
The first group, she said, is made up of students who have interacted with Pannell in one of her many positions around campus — including member of the Yale College Council, multimedia editor for the News and current vice president of membership for the Pi Beta Phi sorority — would describe her as hard-working and motivated. But Pannell said the second group, which takes note of her bright blonde hair, tan skin and numerous freckles, might associate her physical traits with superficiality.
To this latter group, she says: “I am who I am. I’m proud of who I am.”
Despite her involvement with several campus activities, Pannell said she can devote the time necessary to run the Yale College Council successfully if she is elected. Many of her current responsibilities, she said, are set to end before her term as president would begin.
“I don’t function well if I’m not super busy all of the time,” she said.
Friends of Pannell, such as Nathalie Papillion ’13, also noted her energy and charisma.
“One of her biggest assets will be to mobilize different groups of people to a common end,” said Papillion, Pannell’s “little sister” in Pi Beta Phi.
Pannell’s platform focuses on reducing the self-help component of financial aid packages, which is slated to rise next year; improving mental health services through increased staffing; and expanding the ClassesV2 server by uploading electronic versions of textbooks. In addition, she hopes to expand dining options and diversify the jobs promoted by Undergraduate Career Services.
More importantly, Pannell wants the YCC to play a more central role in student life. Habitual proposals, including open meetings and frequent student surveys, have not proven effective in making students care about student government, she said.
So instead, Pannell said she will focus on a two-pronged approach. She plans first to overhaul the YaleStation Web portal, introducing features such as a tool that synchronizes a calendar of campuswide events with students’ Facebook accounts. Once students visit YaleStation more frequently, they will be more inclined to take advantage of YCC resources, such as announcements and surveys located on the Web page, she said.
The YCC under her leadership would also focus on integrating its efforts with partner student organizations, she said. On Thursday, for example, Pannell met with Undergraduate Organizing Committee member Anna Robinson-Sweet ’11 discussing her proposed financial aid reforms and the limited availability of student jobs on campus, which she hopes to address with the help of the UOC.
“Some of the most successful initiatives that we’ve done have been in coordination with other committees,” she said, pointing out that the new policy allowing gender-neutral housing was largely due to the efforts of the campus LGBT community.
Pannell’s campaign video, “I’m with Coco,” features other students explaining why they support her campaign. But the video is actually the second of the semester that features Pannell in a leading role: In a video released during her sorority’s recruitment process earlier in the semester, Pannell’s character was shown helping University President Richard Levin with a “multi-billion dollar fundraising campaign.”
When asked if there was any truth in this character, Pannell quipped, “I do have his number in my phone.”