Name: R. David Edelman
Residential college: Calhoun
Hometown: San Anselmo, Calif.
Major: Ethics, politics and economics
In retrospect, R. David Edelman ’07 said, losing his election for YCC representative was one of the best things that could have happened to him freshman year.
Without a seat on the council, Edelman said he became a leader in other organizations on campus, including the Ex!t Players comedy group and the Independent Party, and he began to notice some problems on the campus at large — including the inequity among college dining halls and the lack of confidence in the quality of student health care.
“Just as a regular member of the community, I started to get involved in things,” Edelman said. “I’m diagnosing problems from experience. For all of freshman year I got things done because I had a personal stake in it, because it was something that I thought was annoying that needed to be fixed, and so I set up the meetings and got together the interactions that ended up solving them.”
Before being elected to the YCC as a sophomore, Edelman said, he had already worked extensively with the administration to, for example, start a new summer internship program for Yalies in Washington, D.C.
Edelman, commonly known as “rDave,” said he is most proud of his ability to work with the administration to solve problems efficiently. After only a few weeks on YCC, he was able to work with the Council of Masters to lift temporarily the restrictions on dining hall transfers.
“It is the role of the president to be able to take these great ideas that the students have and to sell the to administrators in a way that acknowledges that we all want student life to be better,” he said.
He also is working to form a committee of faculty and students that will review the quality of student health care provided by Undergraduate Health Services, a project he started after he sent an e-mail to friends a few weeks ago asking about their experiences with UHS. His inquiry yielded 14 pages of anecdotes within 12 hours, most of them critical of UHS, and in particular with the quality of its women’s health services. The committee will release its report by first semester next year, he said.
As YCC president, Edelman said he would make the council a more efficient body. His first action as president, he said, would be to talk with each representative and help them develop a timeline and strategy for accomplishing the one or two issues about which he or she is most passionate.
“The one thing that I bring to the table that no one else does is a coherent vision of how the YCC as a total body can get things done,” he said. “There is no excuse on the YCC for working on an issue for two years. That’s not a sign that you’re thinking very hard about it — it’s a sign that you’re incapable of getting things done.”
Critics of Edelman’s campaign, however, said his lack of experience on the YCC relative to some of his opponents may hamper his ability to accomplish many of his goals.
“I’m not going to go out of my way to call him young and inexperienced, but there are certain times when years on the council give insight in dealing with controversial issues,” said Alan Kennedy-Shaffer ’06, another presidential candidate.
But Edelman’s supporters said he had formed close relationships with key administrators even before being elected to the council, which his supporters said makes up for his relative lack of experience on the YCC.
“He just knows where to go, who to speak to, and then once he does, he gets whatever the hell he wants. It’s amazing,” said Alexandra Charrow ’07, a friend of Edelman’s from the Independent Party and a volunteer on his campaign.