In my year of service with the Yale College Council, I have learned it has the capability to positively affect all of our college experiences. It is the students’ connection to the administration that should be our channel for expressing grievances and positive ideas. Unfortunately, the YCC has not yet realized its potential.
The YCC’s purpose is to amplify students’ voices, so it needs to recognize that achieving success requires faithfully and accurately transmitting student concerns. It often passes resolutions that are not considered by the administration because of their lack of campus-wide support. In a college of 5,000, a policy advocated by 30 people will not lead to its adoption, even if those 30 people are elected representatives.
To solve this problem, we must involve more students in the process. When considering an issue, the YCC should seek out groups concerned with that topic, and we should all work together. After passing a resolution or commencing a campaign, the resources of all of the parties involved should be used to lobby effectively. The administration will have to take notice if thousands of students, not a handful, make their voices heard.
So how do we come together to create a dialogue and affect change? The YCC should take the initiative to invite activist groups, cultural organizations and other students to meetings. YCC meetings are open, but few people know where or when they are.
We should create focused agendas — where we do not simply write a resolution — but also send letters, draft editorials or organize protests if necessary to present our opinions. The YCC’s current perception is that a resolution is the climax of our work on an issue. In terms of working for change, I believe a resolution is just the beginning.
Communication is the only way to achieve our goals, and we have available resources to make that connection. The YCC should update its Web site after each meeting and publish a monthly newsletter. As representatives, we must not forget our duty to serve our colleges and return to them with information about our actions.
If the YCC continues to underutilize its resources, the coming year will yield few positive results. The administration will persist in dismissing our resolutions because they do not see a large demand for our proposals, and undergraduates will have little say in the myriad issues from financial aid to unions, slated to come to the forefront of discussion.
To be a strong voice, the YCC needs a strong executive board and officers who will have candid discussions with the administration and unite students behind a cause. The YCC needs officers who have proven effective in securing tangible results for students.
Next year if we are to accomplish anything with regard to financial aid reform, unions, Aramark, Yale’s environmental practices or any other issue that may present itself, we must act coherently and cohesively. We must join together and work seriously for an improved Yale.