I am grateful to have this opportunity to clarify misconceptions about AKS as follows: Alan Kennedy-Shaffer hails from rural Mechanicsburg, Penn., where he lives next door to the town’s only police officer, after having resided for 10 years in Brooklyn, N.Y. AKS is the longest-tenured YCC representative (three years), has advised the Freshman Class Council for two years, and was promoted from dishwasher to working on the serving line in Davenport’s dining hall. While some of us will opt for high-powered internships in D.C. this summer, he plans on doing the same thing he’s done for the past three summers, as a wilderness ranger in the backwoods of North Carolina. Only at Yale could AKS become the most recognizable guy on campus. Perhaps this is a testament to what makes our student body unique.
Some say AKS is too radical — indeed, Alan is an “out-of-the-box thinker,” as the News noted a year ago. In one of his “radical” resolutions, Alan urged “the full reporting of sexual assault statistics to the Yale community.” Period. Before the YCC would vote on his proposal, however, its officers interceded with an amended version, recommending “a committee to study the issue of sexual assault,” which was passed.
That said, if you want a barrage of new “committees to study the issue,” vote for one of the other guys. Alan’s opponents have proposed an estimated total of seven new committees, to study issues ranging from YUHS to sexual assault to dining services. Note that Dean’s office standing committees already exist, for issues ranging from YUHS to sexual assault to dining services, and most meet only once or twice a year. As YCC president, Alan Kennedy-Shaffer will require these standing committees to convene more frequently, before problems become crises, giving students a voice that is heard.
AKS has been criticized for not cozying up to administrators — in fact, he doesn’t always need to. It was a suggestion from a single female student that prompted improvements of the nighttime minibus policy — AKS answered not by marching into Dean Brodhead’s office, but by meeting with security guards and the head of Yale Transit. During a friendly chat, Alan listened to a couple of security guards’ complaints about the safety threat of propped doors on Old Campus during parties. The result was his resolution for expanded keycard access on Old Campus, passed by both the YCC and FCC. For a second, try to imagine one of Alan’s opponents shooting the breeze with a couple of security guards. And when you see Yale security staff or dining hall workers wearing an “AKS” button this coming week, ask them why they support Alan.
You may have seen Alan picketing with fellow dining hall workers during last year’s strike or participating in the recent rally for financial aid. Alan brings the same activist passion to the mundane issues that affect our everyday lives. For him, Berkeley is not just about food; it marks the enduring struggle between the haves and the have nots. Expanded keycard access might as well open the gates to a free and open society. Indeed, Alan takes it all very seriously — yet, where’s the harm in that? Yale students deserve no less than a president who will fight for changes that affect our lives every day.
Before it became fashionable to talk about dining hall restrictions, Alan made it an issue. In a fall 2003 column in the Yale Herald, he urged “the University to expand the Sustainable Foods Program to Commons,” proposing that YUDS “provide one organic entree and one or two side dishes a meal, or to designate one or two nights a week to ‘go organic.'” Alan’s idea was tabled in favor of another resolution by an opponent, which recommended the lifting of restrictions in all colleges except Berkeley.
For what it’s worth, Alan Kennedy-Shaffer brings as great a “fresh, outsider” perspective on the YCC as anyone, having held leadership roles in a number of campus organizations apart from YCC. AKS has served as opinion editor of the Yale Herald, secretary of the YPU, a vice president of Alpha Phi Omega (community service fraternity), and vice-chair of Yale’s ACLU chapter, to name a few.
Face it, there really isn’t all that much at stake here. We could maintain the status quo with or without a president — or a YCC, for that matter. However, the prospect of the YCC pressuring the administration for real change, for me, is enough reason to vote for AKS. It will be entertaining at the very least. Alan Kennedy-Shaffer, president of the student body: a leader, for a change.
Brian Wayda is a sophomore in Davenport College.