The News will not release its traditional endorsement of a Yale College Council presidential candidate this year, since two of the four candidates are News staffers. After having met with all four candidates, we offer our hopes for the next YCC president based upon their platforms and our reflections on this past year.
One year ago, we were cautiously optimistic about the leadership of Danny Avraham ’15. Today, we are excited to see a robust Yale College Council presidential election because we know the ramifications of an uncontested race.
When Avraham steps down, he will leave a YCC that is vastly more expanded, streamlined and active, but increasingly alienated from the student body.
Over the past year, Avraham “reinvented” YCC, reshuffling roles and creating a management board to increase accountability. His efforts were successful — and have resulted in more members, projects and reports. A few of these reports, such as the outsourced evaluation of mental health policies, were helpful in pushing for policy change.
Yet if we set the bar for a leader at an in-house consultant, only responsible for streamlining workflows and managing tasks, we would be selling ourselves short. The expectations for the president of Yale’s student government should be higher. The president should be someone who will engage the entire Council in decisions, not override it; who will listen to the student body, not clash with it; and who will respond to input, not defend his or her own image.
If this year has taught the presidential candidates anything, it should be that initiative must be balanced with a willingness to trust others with responsibility.
The four candidates have expressed their interest in pushing for reform of mental health, mixed-gender housing and financial aid policies. The University is poised to make pivotal change in all three of these areas, and we are looking to the next president to continue the pressure.
In order to pursue these reforms with credibility, the next president must make full use of the talents of the many well-meaning officers elected to the YCC. This includes taking a step back from YCC communications, allowing representatives to release information to the student body directly — along with allowing the vice president to return to moderating YCC discussions and managing all facets of elections, as mandated in the YCC constitution. It also means that the Council of Representatives, not just the Executive Board, must be placed at the center of all critical decision-making processes.
We are due for a return to an organic YCC. Top-down decisions are efficient in the short term, but in the long run they undermine the YCC as a student council. We need two-way dialogues and proposals from the bottom up. Most importantly, after this election’s vitriol and vicious rumors fade, we need a president who builds relationships based on respect within and beyond the Council.
We are hopeful for what the upcoming year will bring.