Like most Yalies, I have what you might call a skeptical view of the Yale College Council. In fact, it is hard to find people outside the YCC who take it seriously. As it happens, the Yale administration has made it clear that it prefers to deal with the YCC — rather than activist groups — when it comes to students’ issues.
The problem is that nobody has enough respect for the YCC to be truly disappointed when it fails. People don’t expect results, and that makes it easy for Yale to ignore what YCC brings up on behalf of the students. As students, we should have an elected body that can represent us to the administration in a manner commanding attention and dignity. But how can we achieve this?
I think the answer is simpler than you might think. I propose that the YCC be split into two new councils, one devoted entirely to student issues and the other devoted to planning social activities. It has always struck me as odd that the same people who are being asked to lobby for improvements to student life are also expected to plan distinctly social events.
Would you want the chair of a cotillion committee to go to Washington and fight for your rights? Would you ask Trent Lott or Tom Daschle to plan your kid brother’s Bar Mitzvah party? I should think not. So why do we have the same student organization handling the down-and-dirty work of student advocacy that also has to worry about getting a Spring Fling act? This model of student government didn’t make sense in high school, and it sure doesn’t make sense here.
And don’t think that the YCC’s role in planning parties doesn’t hurt its reputation as a serious body of student representation. If for no other reason, we should split the council so students will know they have elected representatives who will do nothing but fight for them.
Another major symptom of the YCC’s current structure is that one of its functions can give the other a chance to rest on its laurels. Issues might have the option to take it easy, knowing they’ll be doing their part helping out with activities and vice versa. Split the YCC in two, and the two halves are on their own with nothing but their own agendas to pursue. The bottom line is that with two separate councils (each of which ought to meet as much as the full council does now), a lot more work could get done. More issues could be dealt with, and I bet our parties would be better too.
I do not propose to have all of the answers. There are many details to be worked out beyond the broad strokes I’ve just drawn. I look forward to a vigorous discussion from any and all interested parties, both inside and outside the YCC. But at the very least, we should agree that two councils are better than one. Enough is enough: Let’s stop complaining and start expecting more from our representatives.