Voting for next year’s Yale College Council officers — following a campaign marked by negativity and numerous rule violations by the record number of candidates for six officer positions — will begin this morning on the YaleStation online portal.
Presidential candidates R. David Edelman ’07, Alan Kennedy-Shaffer ’06, Sam Penziner ’07 and Steven Syverud ’06 have all expressed optimism about the way their platforms are resonating with students and said they expect record turnout during the three-day voting period that ends Wednesday at 9 p.m.
Although the four candidates are focusing on a few overlapping issues, their platforms are different in the issues they address and the solutions they propose as each candidate has sought a niche in the closing days of the race.
Edelman’s platform includes a plan to examine and improve the quality of care at University Health Services and to upgrade the University’s dining program by diversifying meal plans, increasing the number of options under the Flex program and alleviating overcrowding in the dining halls by opening Commons and the Hall of Graduate Studies dining hall on weekends.
He also said he will work to have the summer financial aid contribution waived for students pursuing unpaid internships, and create up to five new Undergraduate Organizations Funding Committee grants of about $1,000 per semester for new student groups.
Kennedy-Shaffer identified abolishing dining hall restrictions, expanding financial aid and simplifying the aid application process, as well as expanding key-card access on Old Campus as his key campaign issues. He said giving freshman access to all the buildings on Old Campus would greatly increase student safety.
“Expanding key-card access would make us safer because it would eliminate the extreme vulnerability of propped doors,” he said.
Syverud said his focus is on improving his Ambassadors Program, through which undergraduates will visit low-income schools to recruit high-achieving students on a trial basis this summer, as well as working to bring late-night dining to some of the residential college dining halls. He also said he wants to work to institute additional sophomore seminars, increase the breadth of information available to students on online course evaluations and enhance academic advising.
“Advising needs to be a huge issue,” he said. “Everyone acknowledges that advising is a huge issue, but no one really does anything about it.”
Penziner, who is running on the Rumpus ticket, said the issues central to his campaign are cutting financial aid for low-income students and increasing aid for wealthy students — which he claims would increase general prosperity through the principle of trickle-down economics — and expanding Spring Fling into a week-long event. He also said he would focus on bringing alcohol to dining halls in a program similar to one instituted at Colby College, in which students of legal drinking age can purchase up to two drinks to accompany their meals.
All candidates condemned their opponents’ use of dirty tactics over the weekend. Penziner accused his opponents of “consciously” covering up his posters with their own, and both Penziner and Kennedy-Shaffer criticized Edelman for distributing table tents that are larger than the regulation 8.5 inch-by-5.5-inch size.
Edelman said he believes Kennedy-Shaffer broke into the Saybrook dining hall and stole all of his campaign table tents from the tables, then replaced them with his own.
“I know politics can get dirty, but this is just sick,” Edelman said. “There is such a flagrant disregard for both the rules and the bounds of human decency.”
He also said he observed one of Kennedy-Shaffer’s “goons” tearing down his campaign posters and replacing them with Kennedy-Shaffer’s.
Kennedy-Shaffer denied the allegations against him, and also accused both of his opponents of tearing down other candidates’ posters. But he said the alleged removal of posters did not bother him greatly.
“They’re really insignificant in the grand scheme of things,” he said. “Posters don’t decide an election.”
Syverud also said although he has heard of posters being torn down and replaced, he is not very concerned.
“I’m really just trying to stay positive and focus on running my campaign as best I can,” he said.
Several students interviewed said they believed the presidential race would be a close one, with no candidate having emerged as the clear favorite. Bill Perdue ’07 said he is voting for Syverud, because Syverud has demonstrated an interest in working with groups such as the Yale Symphony Orchestra, an organization of which Perdue is a member.
“He has sought out a friend of mine from the YSO and seems to be interested in working with us on our problems,” Perdue said. “He’s the only candidate who’s done that.”
Aaron Barnet ’08 said he is voting for Edelman.
“My decision was influenced by just talking to people and the respect I have for him and how much he’s trying to accomplish especially with health services,” said Barnet, who said he knows of Edelman through the Yale Political Union.
Greg Ablavsky ’05 declined to reveal who he is voting for, but said he felt well-equipped to make the decision after being at Yale for nearly four years.
“What shaped my decision was a sense of my personal interactions with the people and also a sense of who has been effective at getting stuff done on the YCC,” Ablavsky said.
But several students said they do not have a sense of the candidates’ stances on issues, and are not even sure if they will vote at all.
“I haven’t really looked at it very much,” said Catherine Smith ’05. “As a senior it’s not really one of my top priorities.”