The race is on.
Starting at 9 this morning, Yalies can cast their ballots for next year’s Yale College Council officers. The chad-free ballots will be available online at www.yale.edu/ycc/vote, through Friday morning at nine.
YCC Vice President Leah Zimmerman said she will notify the candidates of the results and then publicize the results on a Web site by noon Friday.
But before students saw their first posters, long before voting, the race for the best bulletin board real estate and the glitziest advertisements began in the early hours of Saturday morning.
The new “fresh face”
“I think it’s time to wear a flier.”
It is barely two hours into Day One of his official campaign for Yale College Council president and Andrew Allison ’04 has found a new place for one of his “location specific” posters — his stomach.
After an early Saturday morning of postering, which has taken him across the deserted campus hanging up lime green signs in common rooms, bulletin boards and hallways, Allison stands in his room and tapes a “Frosh. Andrew Allison for YCC President” poster to his shirt, a red and white Timothy Dwight jersey made for the day’s upcoming Freshman Olympics.
The only freshman in a field of four current YCC members vying for president, Allison’s advertising ranged from posters in Old Campus entryways highlighting his class year to signs from Stiles to TD advocating his various ideas.
But his real message in the campaign, Allison notes, is raising awareness and involvement in YCC among students, a problem he knows all too well. As he leaves TD to head to the Freshman Olympics, Allison runs into a friend.
“What is YCC?” his friend asks, pointing to the sign on Allison’s chest.
“Yale College Council.”
“Do you guys do anything?”
“You know, he’s the second person this week to ask me what YCC is,” Allison said. “It doesn’t have much of a presence.”
Having proposed a newsletter to publicize YCC actions and increase communication, Allison has already worked strategically to raise his own presence on campus — from the locations of his signs to their colors. The lime green is best for catching people’s eyes, Allison said.
An experienced posterer, Allison has become well acquainted with the lingo and etiquette of campus advertising.
“This one seems to be double-parked,” Allison said of one poster as he searches for space on one bulletin board already covered in ads for other candidates, weekend parties and summer sublets.
He finally finds room for his “Freshman: Andrew Allison for YCC President” poster and heads outside to poster the campus lime green.
Friends in battle
Aside from Woolsey, Pierson and Hale — and the occasional half-dressed straggler on the “walk of shame” home after a wild night — few Yalies show their faces on Old Campus in the wee hours of Saturday morning.
But Robbie Wilkins ’03 was awake and as cheerful as the chirping birds at 8 a.m. Saturday, even though his face was not cast in bronze and his clothing was not rumpled.
Wilkins hung poster number one at Yankee Doodle, where he shared an early morning breakfast with his friend Thomas Sullivan ’03.
Sullivan is a News staff reporter.
After his original postering buddy, his girlfriend, ditched him because of a fight, Wilkins’ called Sullivan at midnight on Friday in desperation.
Wilkins said he is grateful for Sullivan’s help — especially on such short notice — and that mobilizing his friends is his best campaign strategy.
Wilkins was not sure how much postering he would do for his campaign, but said he hoped the bright yellow, purple and blue signs would get his name out.
Because the student body typically casts most votes the first day, Wilkins said he wanted to hang at least half of his allotted posters before this “Super Monday.”
The first batch featured a picture of Wilkins surrounded by bubbles displaying his goals.
In his unsuccessful YCC presidential campaign last year, Wilkins used the slogan, “Experience with a fresh face.”
But since his face is no longer so fresh, Wilkins said he decided to bring back his successful slogan, “Where there’s a will, there’s a Wilkins,” which he used in high school.
Wilkins served as student body president of Kapaun Mt. Carmel High School in Wichita, Kan. His Catholic alma mater still pledges Wilkins its support.
In fact, he recently received an encouraging e-mail from his former principal, who wished him luck in the race.
“But he also told me it might be a good idea to go to church on Sunday,” Wilkins said. “I think that’s the real reason he wrote.”
Wilkins tacked up his second poster near Phelps Gate, after strategically scanning the bulletin board for the perfect spot.
“Up top, definitely up top,” Wilkins said.
The morning-long postering spree took Wilkins on a tour of residential colleges, academic buildings and local businesses, as well as in the path of opponent Vid Prabhakaran ’03, whom he passed several times.
The two greeted each other enthusiastically, which reinforced Wilkins’ prediction that this would be a laid-back, friendly race.
“Vid and I will go to Naples this Thursday, sit back and have a few drinks even though voting will still be going on,” Wilkins said. “Either way, we’re still going to be working together next year.”
Once the two had separated, Prabhakaran also spoke kindly of Wilkins.
“We considered running together on a ticket, but we both realized we wanted it,” he said. “Robbie and I will always be friendly. I’m sure of that.”
The campaign started early for Prabhakaran as well on Saturday morning. As he removed outdated posters from campus bulletin boards to make way for his own, he was careful to recycle.
“I’d better live up to my YSEC endorsement,” Prabhakaran said as he threw the faded sheets of old paper in a blue Yale recycling bin.
While he did receive the endorsement of the Yale Student Environmental Coalition, Prabhakaran said he is more concerned about specific smaller goals — things like bathroom reform, funding a new fall concert and improving events like Spring Fling and the Winter Ball.
“I never was completely issues-centered,” said Prabhakaran, who currently serves as Yale College Council treasurer.
As he tacked a black and orange poster to the bulletin board in Jonathan Edwards, Prabhakaran said he has always believed that the more realistic and more feasible goals are the smaller ones.
“That’s what’s really going to happen,” he said. “Stuff that’s not controversial.”
He pointed to YSEC’s “Green Plan,” the organization’s master guide to making Yale more environmentally sustainable, which he said may be “too ambitious.”
“I’m more practical,” Prabhakaran said. “I totally agree with everything in the plan, but we need to start smaller. Continuing to push for specifics — like making all new colleges energy efficient — is what’s going to get stuff done.”
Prabhakaran said he thinks the focus on specifics will help him to attract the much needed freshman and sophomore vote.
“I want to hit every freshman and sophomore with e-mail, and I may go door-to-door,” he said as he held the door for a student entering Linsly-Chittenden Hall.
“The number one reason to hang posters is just to remind the people who were already going to vote for you that they should do it,” he added.
A campaign from afar
YCC presidential candidate Jack Snyder has no campaign song, but Saturday afternoon in the Calhoun common room, just as campaigning was beginning around campus, one of his friends sat at the piano crooning the words to Snyder’s campaign poster: “Split the YCC in two.”
Snyder is running on the platform that the YCC should be split into two separate entities: one that handles only activities and one that handles only issues.
“I consider the election in large part as a referendum on my plan,” he said, “and if I were to win, I would be able to set the issue on the agenda, and I would have the most ability to lobby the administration or to advocate it most zealously.”
Snyder said he believes his proposal will particularly appeal to activist groups because it would allow the YCC to pay more attention to their particular interests.
“All the residential college councils work that way,” she said, “so it’s not an unprecedented idea.”
Snyder spend the weekend in New York celebrating Easter with his family, as he traditionally does, As a result, he was not able start campaigning for the presidency. Instead, his official campaign manager and girlfriend Elizabeth Herman took care of passing out “Jack” stickers and registering and hanging his bright green posters around campus.
Herman said she and Snyder had labored over the design for the 300 posters she had printed and stamped earlier that morning.
“We considered red and black, but it’s not easy to read, so we settled on black on yellow,” he said.
“The lady at TYCO said it was the best choice and that that was straight out of her graphic design textbook,” she said.
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