Pannell: Picking our next president

Many people have asked why I decided to run for Yale College Council President. Many have asked why I decided to come to Yale at all. The answer to both of these is the same.

I’m from Milan, Tenn., a small town of 8,000. I’m the first person from my high school to ever attend an Ivy League college. Yale was never the life plan. I came to Yale because I believe in myself, and I believe I can make a difference. That is also why I decided to run for YCC President.

In order to make a difference, you have to shake things up and not just go with the flow. In my three years here I’ve refused to be pigeonholed. I’m a Directed Studies alumna, but I’m also in a sorority. I’ve been featured in Rumpus and quoted in the New Journal. I’ve been on a Reach Out trip to China and have been a site leader for Dwight Hall’s Day of Service.

I want to take this breadth of knowledge and experience and channel that into effective change for Yale. But I know I can’t do that alone. In order for the YCC to be effective, the YCC President needs to be able to both energize the council and the student body. All five members of the newly elected executive board have individually expressed support for me in this runoff, and today, most will actively take steps to help me get elected.

A lot of ideas were proposed in this race, but we have to be realistic. For every idea that I’ve proposed in my platform, I have a detailed, bullet-point plan on how to make it happen. Under my leadership, the council would adopt a results-oriented approach. Even with large umbrella issues like dining and financial aid, we’ll look at manageable, attainable goals within those issues. For instance, I’ve already written a memo about dining that will be presented to administrators on Friday proposing complimentary meal swipes, flexibility within the freshman meal plan, dinner swipes at Durfee’s and longer hours for Uncommon.

This results-oriented approach doesn’t mean that issues that may require complete overhauls like mental health services and academic reform will be overlooked, but I want to make sure we cover both the big and the small, the serious and the fun.

To do this, I’ll restructure the project groups. One group will address macropolicy issues like proposing reforms for the Committee on Yale College Education fall report and lowering the self-help contribution. One will focus on student services like transportation, student safety and Undergraduate Career Services. And the third will focus on organizing campus-wide events like Mr. Yale, Winter Show, Iron Chef and Harvard-Yale week. As YCC president, I will be involved in all three groups, figuring out ways in which the council can partner with other student organizations, garner student feedback, work with appropriate administrators and work on projects that don’t require administrative approval.

This proposed structure will ensure that the YCC doesn’t become just an “events planning organization.” Macropolicy, services and events are all important to student life, but it’s important to differentiate them so that they all receive appropriate attention. I have the breadth of experience to work simultaneously on both issues and events having served on the YCC for two years, Sophomore College Council, Morse Student Activities Committee and the Spring Fling Committee.

In the past three years, Yale has given so much to me. Now, I want to give this job my all. I believe I can do it and do it well. I ask you to believe in me too.

Courtney Pannell is a junior in Morse College, a candidate for YCC President and the multimedia editor of the News.

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