After three years as an unelected associate member of the Yale College Council, working on issues from gender-neutral housing to campus security, Rustin Fakheri ’12 is running to be the council’s next president.
Fakheri said he believes his top priorities for the council — increasing contact between students and administrators and holding YCC members accountable for their campaign promises — can best be accomplished from the role of president. Fakheri’s road to the election has been a long one: After he lost two previous bids for YCC office, one to represent Branford College on the YCC as a freshman and one for YCC secretary as a sophomore, Fakheri said he originally resigned himself to working in the shadows of the council.
“My thoughts going into junior year were, ‘I’m going to do this as an associate all four years, and be that one guy in the back of the room who’s just been there the whole time and who knows what’s going on — like an old guy in Congress,’” Fakheri said.
But two weeks ago, he changed his mind. Fakheri said while he was able to tackle specific issues as an associate member, he realized that only as president could he access top administrators directly and pursue his over-arching goals for the council.
If elected, Fakheri said he hopes to create “open lines of communication” between students and administrators, inviting University President Richard Levin and Yale College Dean Mary Miller to YCC meetings and establishing town hall forums in which students could ask questions of administrators and voice their concerns.
“The YCC needs to bring the administration to the students,” Fakheri said. “We already do that to some extent, but you see the problems with what we’re doing right now when you have issues like Title IX. Title IX came out because students feel the administration isn’t responding, and the first step to responding is having the right conversations.”
Fakheri said he also intends to report the status of YCC initiatives more clearly on the council’s website, allowing students to track the progress of various representatives’ campaign promises and hold their elected officials accountable.
Although Fakheri has never been elected to a YCC position, Pete Croughan ’12, who ran for the presidency last spring as an unelected associate, said he thinks Fakheri has enough experience to succeed in the position.
“Being an associate gives you plenty of experience,” Croughan said. “You participate in all meetings, all committees, and you’re there for all of the decision-making processes. Rustin is a very capable person, and he has a lot of phenomenal ideas for how to improve the YCC and life at Yale.”
In the wake of the Elevate incident last fall, Fakheri revived a YCC project group on security, which he leads. The group has been talking to students and faculty to map out places on campus where people feel safe or unsafe and to compile an end-of-year report on Yale security, he said.
Fakheri also serves on the YCC’s transit project group, which has given him ideas for improving student life by expanding the Yale transit system to include a nighttime shuttle around central campus, he said. He added that he has talked to Ed Bebyn, the manager of Yale transit, to obtain data on where students most frequently call to be picked up and dropped off by the minibus at night, and has plotted out a 30-minute loop that an evening shuttle could make around these on- and off-campus locations.
In past years, Fakheri worked on creating gender-neutral housing and the Yale bike share program, a joint initiative between the YCC and the Yale Student Environmental Coalition, he said.
Outside of the YCC, Fakheri said he is heavily involved in the Branford College community, where he works as a master’s aide and in the buttery, and helped plan this year’s Crushes and Chaperones dance.