“When is a ‘friend’ really a friend?” asked yesterday’s News’ View (“New election rules leave YCC the worse off,” 4/6). The answer is that we do not know, and I don’t care. In the last two weeks, the revised election guidelines have been misrepresented and taken out of context. The election rules’ guiding philosophy is simple: Each candidate will have a fair opportunity to campaign and solicit support on an equal basis. This goal is not unachievable, just tough to enforce.
The News notes that “the YCC campaign has started, but nobody is actually allowed to campaign,” but what paper published the first campaign article on March 30 and effectively started the campaign process? “Race to Lead YCC Heats Up” (3/30) admitted that “rules are not yet in place for the upcoming Yale College Council officer elections” but proceeded to quote and highlight three presidential contenders. What about other students interested in running for the office? The ballot was not even official, but the race was deemed “contentious.” How does a non-YCC member compete fairly against this type of publicity?
The ballot is now official, and the presidential race features four contenders, one of whom was excluded from the March 30 article and then omitted from a picture of the candidates in April 5’s “YCC hopefuls face new rules.” The new rules aim to protect individuals from this type of treatment by preventing candidates from campaigning before an official ballot is announced. The troubling part arises when prevention becomes synonymous with silence and starts to violate the ideals of free speech. To this extent, the rules are clear but nuanced. Candidates should feel encouraged to have exploratory conversations with close friends, but should avoid soliciting the advice of the masses. A measurable difference exists between receiving genuine advice about your candidacy from close friends and propagating campaign messages to friends of friends of friends.
The new rules have extended the endorsement process period and allowed for candidates to build campaign teams. We agree that it is important to allow candidates and organizations the opportunity to share their visions and engage in constructive dialogues. To this end, we extended the endorsement window from five to eight days and will hold one, possibly two, debates. The fuss over who’s a friend is a farce. Everyone agrees that your friends shouldn’t be allowed to violate campaign rules on your behalf, and so our language was changed to reflect that. If a candidate cannot distinguish a true friend from a random acquaintance, he or she is already in trouble. The Election Commission only investigates complaints, usually of the harassment variety, or observed violations. If people take the time to complain, usually they are not your close buddies.
The principal change was to allow candidates the opportunity to spend more time discussing issues with organizations. To this extent, maybe more than eight days should be allowed. Time and another vice president will see. But as for extending the campaign period, some should be careful for what they ask for. Maybe the News is correct in its assumption that our campus is ready for weeks of campaigning filled with YCC paraphernalia strewn across our lawns, bulletin boards and inboxes. Maybe we should lift the ban on the number of posters and table tents permitted and let the dean’s office police postering. Maybe we should allow mass e-mails and leave regulating to ITS administrators. But then, what would I do with my first sunny days of spring?
Chance Carlisle, a junior in Saybrook College, is vice president of the Yale College Council.