This April, the Yale College Council will host a Spring Fling that reflects the requests of the undergraduate population more so than any other Spring Fling before it.
Because earlier this fall, the YCC conducted an online survey asking students what band they wanted to headline the event, which rides they preferred, and how the day should run. Over 1,200 students logged on to voice their opinions, and the results became our guide in planning the event.
This survey was done through YaleStation, and without it, the YCC could never have been as well-informed as we are today about what the student body wants.
Just as any representative government seeks to improve the lives of its constituents, the YCC continually strives to improve student life both by its advocacy and its activities. Why then will taking on YaleStation as a project of the YCC make for a better Yale?
First of all, by turning YaleStation into the “technological arm” of the YCC, we would formalize a relationship that has existed for almost two years. Starting with last year’s elections for the YCC officers, YaleStation has run all elections for both YCC and FCC representatives, in addition to conducting multiple surveys of the Yale community — like the Spring Fling survey.
Currently, the site also offers an extensive city guide offering information about area restaurants, a guide with information about travel to and from New Haven, weather conditions, dining hall menus, headlines from campus publications, pictures from major events around campus, event announcements, birthday announcements, and links to pre-existing Yale resources like the facebook, phonebook, and classes server — all of which are accessible from a Web site that gives a user the ability to format the layout of the page according to his or her own preferences for content and location.
Future additions include a rideboard that would give students the opportunity to save gas money on trips away from campus and forums for students to discuss issues around campus. These forums will be a vital resource in directing the activities of the YCC and other campus groups, as they will provide clear snapshots of the opinions of students.
Access to a site like this is beneficial to Yale undergraduates. But if that is not enough, YaleStation also provides the technological backbone for a number of student organizations and Yale departments. It may not stand as the single greatest Web site ever produced and we don’t doubt there are others at Yale who have the ability to create similar sites.
But the existence of YaleStation at Yale today improves student life by increasing ease of access to pertinent information and aiding student organizations with new technological services.
Yet another question still remains: why does YaleStation need to be a part of the YCC in order to accomplish this improvement of student life?
The first reason is accountability.
By becoming a project of the YCC, the members of the YaleStation team become accountable to the students of Yale through an organization whose very constitution states that it is wholly dedicated to representing student opinion, advocating for the issues affecting the student body and improving life on campus.
When attempting to create partnerships with different organizations and departments of Yale and New Haven in order to bring new and creative online services to undergraduates, the current YaleStation team and all future teams will find themselves accountable to and monitored by a YCC whose priority is to ensure first and foremost that the concerns of the student body are addressed.
The second reason is that of permanence. By turning YaleStation into the “technological arm” of the YCC, we are ensuring that the valuable service it provides to the Yale community does not end following the graduation of its creators. The YCC will insist, rather, that the site grow and change according to the demands of the student body.
The issues raised about perceived objectivity and possible editorial control by the YCC over those organizations that currently or in the future choose to use the technological services that YaleStation provides are a valid concern.
It is clear that the YCC must develop a format for a contractual agreement with the organizations and departments seeking the technological services that YaleStation provides. These agreements must effectively separate the YCC’s control over YaleStation from imposing any editorial control — whether actual or perceived — over those who use the technological services of YaleStation.
If anything, the merger of the YCC and YaleStation will make the process of hosting student organizations on the YaleStation space more open. Rather than having all decision-making authority vested in one person, as it is now, the involvement of the YCC will make the process accountable to a representative body who are then accountable to you — the student body as a whole.
For now, the YCC has delegated the responsibility of determining the format of these future contractual agreements and other logistical issues pertaining to the structure of YaleStation within the council to a committee that will seek the advice of Yale’s eminent professors and formidable general counsel’s office.
The final format of the merger will then appear before the YCC for its approval.
It is our hope that as a project of the Yale College Council, YaleStation will become a useful provider of technological services for Yale undergraduates for many years to come.
Vid Prabhakaran is a junior in Morse College and president of the Yale College Council. EB Kelly is a junior in Branford College and vice-president of the Yale College Council.