“I don’t know who my YCC reps are.”
As a representative on Yale College Council, that’s something I hear an awful lot (if you’re in Branford — hi, it’s me!), which, for an organization that is supposed to represent you, is a pretty discouraging statement.
But more encouraging is the fact that it’s usually followed with, “But I do have a friend on YCC!”
One of Yale’s greatest strengths is the ability we students have to organize ourselves into communities, to join up with other individuals to exchange ideas, rally around a cause, produce something. As YCC president I want to empower and support those communities which define us and our time here. I want to make sure YCC is relevant and working on issues that matter to students.
As YCC president, I will re-envision the way that the Council works. In addition to representing residential college communities, each member will also be responsible for a different subset of Yale College life. They will attend open meetings for organizations like Dwight Hall, La Casa, The Yale Drama Coalition and Athletes in Action, and they will get to know the leadership and members of these groups. When YCC determines its goals, your representatives will have a sense of what matters to particular subsets of the Yale community and they will bring your issues to the table.
My goal is to bring student leaders into the room with administrators to talk about the issues that are important to them and their organizations. We deserve to have access to Yale funding and resources, to have a say in how this university is run. Rather than 100 disparate groups individually trying to get the administration’s attention, let me and YCC do the work for you.
But what about the many students who don’t fall neatly into categories? How do we reach them?
For these students I plan to introduce Fix Our Campus, an online platform that will give students a direct and immediate voice. Already in use at Duke and UNC under a similar name, the site will be manned by a committee of ten students who deliver quick responses and results, addressing both larger issues and small requests that might make our lives a little more fun. I hope to use Fix Our Campus both as an agenda-setting tool and as a way to increase the day-to-day visibility and relevance of YCC on campus.
These are just two of the many ideas, policy changes and hopes I have for next year’s Council. I encourage you to visit my website, leahforyccpresident.com, to read more about my specific platform.
But perhaps even more important than policy and ideas is attitude. My friends say I am a listener. They tell me I’m approachable. My favorite way to spend an evening is surrounded by people, talking about the things that are important to us. We all know that the best meals in the dining hall can last for hours because at no other point in our lives will we be surrounded by so many engaged and interesting people.
As YCC president, I want to listen to you. I will be your voice, someone you can trust, someone you can be excited about. The views and opinions of the student body should hold final say — not my opinions, nor the opinions of 24 individuals who, let’s face it, aren’t as knowledgeable about the things that matter to you as you are.
I hate politics. I did not come to Yale to follow in the footsteps of former presidents and congressmen. I have not been charting my path to YCC presidency since I received my acceptance letter in the mail. I somehow fell into student government at Yale because I love this school, my classmates, this campus. My freshman year, I just wanted to be at the heart of it all, to find a way to meet as many people as I could, to have my finger to the pulse of student life and figure out what makes it tick. I wanted to help enrich this place that has already provided me with so many opportunities.
After two years, I have come to realize that YCC is not the organization I want it to be — not yet, at least.
As YCC president I will bridge that gap. As YCC president I will make the Council a direct voice for the student body. Because if it isn’t, what are we even doing?
Leah Motzkin is a sophomore in Branford College. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.