YCC | Justine Kolata ’12, vice president

Though Justine Kolata ’12 is known on campus mostly for her involvement with the Movement for Beauty and Justice, she said she knows she can get things done.

Kolata’s suitemate and friend Carmen Chambers ’12 said voters should look beyond Kolata’s reputation as the “bunny girl.”

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Brianne Bowen
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“I think most intelligent people look at the substance behind the person,” Chambers said. “I think what she is doing is relevant.”

Still, it has been a wild ride for Justine Kolata ’12 this student government election season. Though she began the race running for vice president of the Yale College Council, she decided to run for Junior Class Council president when she was told no one else would be running. But when the race opened up and she realized other students decided to run for the position, Kolata decided to switch back to her original candidacy for Yale College Council vice president Thursday morning.

Although she has lost some campaign time to the changes in candidacy, she said she is going back into her run for vice president “re-energized.”

“I think the role of the vice president is really important because they are the ones focused on initiatives,” Kolata said.

Even though she has not been involved with student government at Yale, Kolata said she has a lot of ideas to improve undergraduate life. The major focus of her platform is improving mental health support. She hopes to expand peer counseling, such as getting a cadre of experienced juniors to counsel sophomores — much like how frocos help freshmen. Such a program would come at a low cost to Yale, she said, and students would be able to find help close to where they live.

In addition, Kolata said she plans to improve student morale by hosting weekly events, such as dance shows, to supplement the bigger YCC-planned functions such as Mr. Yale and Spring Fling. These events, she said, would be held outdoors at little cost to the YCC, and could be organized by other groups to provide diversity. Already, she organizes similar events on a small scale, such as poetry readings and supportive letter writing.

“My whole thing is that I just want to help people and make people feel valued here,” she said.

Finally, she added that she would work with YCC on existing policy initiatives, such as discussing changes in the distributional requirements with the administration. But she said she wants to get a sense of student opinion on such issues in order to develop concrete proposals.

Kolata said her leadership experience — as team head for communications for the Student Taskforce for Environmental Partnership and as the founder the Movement for Beauty and Justice — has provided her with good people skills.

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