The Yale Daily News managing board interviewed each candidate seeking one of the officer positions in the Yale College Council Sunday night. Each candidate spoke for 2 minutes; editors then interviewed each for 10 minutes. Our endorsements appear below:
President: Robbie Wilkins ’03
Davenport Yale College Council representative Jack Snyder may have made the most important political contribution to this year’s race with his brazen proposal to split the council into two parts: one devoted to issues, the other to activities. We are faced in this race with the increasingly relevant question of what matters more. Robbie Wilkins’ plan for striking a balance between the two and his emphasis on well-researched, deliberative debate is the most cogent in the field.
The solution to YCC’s problems — publicity, legitimacy and effective advocacy within the administration — will not be solved by popular activities alone. Indeed, as Yale prepares for a potentially tumultuous year of labor contracts and a looming showdown with the Graduate Employees and Students Organization next year, YCC’s credibility will hinge on its reasoned approach to issues vital to the future of the University. Wilkins’ track record of Freshman Class Council advocacy for practical financial aid reform as chairman remains impressive and was the basis for our endorsement last year. His proposal for accelerating the search for a Spring Fling band — a delay this year resulted in an almost unforgivable selection — and innovations like a University-wide olympics leave us confident that he will not allow YCC’s social agenda to languish.
Vice president: Ted Wittenstein ’04
The vice president sets the agenda for each YCC meeting, runs elections and oversees standing committee member selection. With the president often busily meeting with constituents and administrators, the vice president typically sets the tone for the year’s student advocacy debates. It is with that in mind that the News heartily endorses Ted Wittenstein, an FCC representative, officer and YCC associate, whose plan for improving the council’s legitimacy and focus is cogently simple: do the research.
In his crusade to bring bathroom soap to Yale dorms, Wittenstein fought bureaucratic inertia with the best weapon of all: months of investigation that showed soap was not excessively costly. Though resolutions are the YCC’s most valuable political currency, the council is plagued by misinformed or quixotic mandates that hamper rather than enable decision making. Wittenstein’s emphasis on well-researched, feasible quality-of-life improvements indicates a mature vision of how to use YCC’s limited muscle as an advisory board.
Secretary: Ryan Sheely ’04
Last year’s promise of a regular YCC newsletter — mandated in the council’s constitution — fell by the wayside and the secretary’s main organ of communication was lost. Ryan Sheely’s practical approach to an office dedicated to insuring that the YCC’s message is not lost on its constituents is impressive. He promises to jumpstart the newsletter and use the council’s Web site to update students about the YCC’s agenda. He also offers a no-nonsense plan for dealing with absenteeism: enforce the rules and boot representatives missing meetings off the council.
Treasurer: Alexis Hoag ’04
Unfortunately, neither of the candidates for the office of the treasurer has so far focused on the actual mechanics of dealing with the responsibility of managing YCC’s annual budget; that experience will come with time on the job. Alexis Hoag’s performance as chair of communications and activities for the FCC and Silliman YCC representative shows that she has the experience to fulfill her major goals of gaining corporate sponsors for YCC activities and improving the council’s financial accountability through meticulous record keeping. We encourage Hoag to adopt a plank from an increasing number of candidates’ platforms: full and public disclosure of YCC’s budget to bring transparency to spending and context to decision making.
UOFC Chair: Alyssa Greenwald ’03
Directorship of the Undergraduate Organizations Funding Committee stands as one of the most important and misunderstood roles in Yale’s student government. Alyssa Greenwald’s commitment to cutting the red tape that delays reimbursements to cash-strapped organizations — shifting the job of writing checks from overworked administrators to work-study students — indicates an intimate knowledge of the office’s inner workings. UOFC is starved for innovation and Greenwald, a former FCC and YCC representative who has served on the UOFC for two semesters, is full of timely and practical ideas. Her plans to publish a handbook with alternative sources of funding for groups that cannot find cash in the UOFC budget, better publicize oft-missed deadlines for funding and make administrators accountable for delays they are often behind will make her a strong member of the YCC executive board.