So far this year, the Yale College Council has made its name as the organization that planned a campuswide Six Flags trip and helped Yale get the Counting Crows for the Tercentennial. This past week, the YCC has shifted its focus from entertainment to more serious issues.
After multiple round table discussions in the last few weeks, YCC representatives decided to focus on the dining halls, financial aid, class section policies, more consideration of the environment in University policies, and increased student voice in the Yale Corporation. The YCC, which finalized its list of priorities Oct. 8, will examine the issues throughout the year.
In the past, administrators have criticized the council for presenting the University with resolutions that are not well-researched.
YCC members said the council will start to research issues on a more long-term, consistent basis than has been done in previous years. Improved YCC research will lead to stronger resolutions, where the group will encourage Yale to make changes, YCC President Vidhya Prabhakaran ’03 said.
“We’re trying to close that credibility gap, whether [the credibility gap] is real or perceived,” YCC Secretary Ryan Sheely ’04 said.
Extended dining hall hours, increased financial aid, and smaller section sizes are some of the ideas the council is considering, Sheely said.
The YCC’s new research-oriented approach is the result of years of frustration associated with the transient nature of the council, which elects new officers and representatives each year.
“By putting research down in a concrete form, next year’s council won’t have to waste time,” issues chairman Howard Han ’02 said.
Although the YCC will devote more energy to broader issues this year, consolidation of the printing and copying card system and distribution of free condoms are some of the smaller issues the council will address this year, Prabhakaran said.
“It’s important people realize we don’t just do the big things,” Prabhakaran said.
The council is also planning a panel forum this fall for students that, unlike last year’s forum with Yale President Richard Levin, will feature other Yale administrators in addition to Levin to answer student inquiries.
For one small project, YCC Vice President EB Kelly ’03 said she will promote awareness of standing committees, which are committees comprising staff and students that influence Yale’s policies on various subjects. In the past, interest in standing committee participation and awareness of standing committees in general have been equally low.
“The job of standing committee representatives is not just to represent their own interests,” Kelly said. “If the student body doesn’t know these committees exist, standing committee representatives can’t express the student body’s views.”
Although the YCC has established its primary issues and intends to research them thoroughly, there is no plan for how the research will be divided among its representatives and officers.
“We have no idea what we’re doing yet,” Han said. “One of our problems has been jumping the gun. We say ‘we’re going to do this’ when we don’t know jack-squat about the topic.”
Through the combined efforts of its members, the YCC should improve its ability to handle broader issues, Sheely said.
“We are going after these issues with a lot more purpose and more of a desire to get them done,” Sheely said.