Gordon: Picking our next president

The good news about Yale College Council election season is that it generates ideas. The bad news is that you’ve already heard them all. Ultimately, what’s important is that the candidate you elect can implement the ideas you care about.

The evaluation of the Committee on Yale College Education report is the most important thing that will happen next year; it’s our only chance to have a say in Yale’s academic programs. I will advocate for secondary concentrations in the foreign languages and for more lab courses to justify their time commitment with a full credit. The student services I most want to improve are Undergraduate Career Services — through enhanced accessibility — and mental health services — through a campus-wide campaign of destigmatization.

I’m also deeply committed to applying the gender-neutral housing option to all juniors and sophomores.

Although Courtney Pannell ’11 shares some of these ideas, I believe we have different priorities. My first priority is to help improve Yale’s academic structure during the CYCE review. Courtney did not support academic minors when the YCC advocated for them this year, and she has not addressed my proposal to award a full credit to more Yale labs.

As a junior, I will be able to devote myself fully to the job of YCC President without the exterior stress of senior papers and a job search. Of course, we’ve all heard that Courtney is a hard worker. It’s true — she is. But hard work isn’t the only ingredient necessary to accomplish the goals she and I have set. Many of the events Courtney has worked on in recent months — Foam Party, Pep Rally and Mr. Yale — are not opposed by anyone. The YCC, therefore, didn’t have to convince anyone. If you put in the time, these events will always work out. Hard work is a valuable commodity, but Courtney doesn’t have a monopoly on it.

The changes I want to accomplish are more elusive. To secure language certificates, full-credit labs and improvements to Credit/D/Fail, we’re going to have to convince some people. I’m talking about Dean Miller, President Levin, and countless other faculty members and administrators.

During my campaign, I’ve emphasized the presidential debate hosted by the News because I believe in the importance of communication, argument and persuasion. I think the environment of that debate — a stressful situation with high stakes — simulated a meeting with administrators. The stakes will only be higher when we argue for bold, necessary changes like a revision of the lab credit system.

During the debate, we had to answer unexpected questions. I’ve been in a number of meetings with deans, and I can attest that they push you to consider every unpredictable angle, just like the best seminar professors. It’s crucial to be well-prepared, which why I read the 2003 CYCE report multiple times to prepare for the debate, but equally important to know how to think on your feet. When you vote I urge you to think about which candidate you want sitting in a meeting with a dean, making a case on behalf of the student body.

The difference between Courtney and my priorities has been clear all year. So too has been our demeanor when we discuss issues with the council at large.

In the YCC meeting last Sunday, I played an active role in our debate over whether the Credit/D/Fail option should be applied to distributional requirements. This is one of the essential questions that we’ll need to address next year. Courtney did not say a word in the conversation.

The YCC President needs to work hard. But he or she also needs the motivation and know-how to represent the student body to the administration.

Today, you’re electing a voice — and I’d be honored to speak for you.

Jeff Gordon is a sophomore in Saybrook College and a candidate for YCC president.

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