The Yale College Council, always an interesting organization, has been especially entertaining over the past few weeks. Indeed, so entertaining that I am inclined to attribute the unprecedented voter turnout in last week’s officer elections to the fact that the undergraduate student body has never before been so regaled by the antics of the presidential candidates. Events such as the Rumpus-sponsored bench-press presidential contest only enhanced the admirable laughter-inducing trait of the Council.
However, the election of the new YCC Executive Board was clouded by sharp criticism from my good friend Palmyra Geraki ’06 (“YCC must seize chance for meaningful role,” 4/14). I wish to right that injustice to the organization that we all love so much; for I believe that apart from being an extremely entertaining body, the YCC is also an efficient and conscientious organization.
Part of the criticism hinges on the fact that the YCC passed only six resolutions last school year. At least at Yale, we must look beyond plain figures. Over the past two years, one of these resolutions was a colossal 23-page report on the future of energy at the University, while another was a comprehensive plan to improve the Credit/D/Fail option. In addition, the YCC has four standing committees that work on different aspects of undergraduate life. After being subjected to weeks of fierce campaigning by the candidates, one must believe that the YCC played at least a small part in the financial aid reforms and in the dining hall review campaign.
I also take exception to the criticism that the YCC must realize its “leadership potential.” Every Yale student is some kind of “leader.” Hasn’t every one of us listed our “leadership skills” on innumerable resumes and cover letters? What Yale students really need the YCC to be is exactly what Geraki describes the YCC to be today: a “channel of communication between students and administrators,” so that the opinions and ideas of the regular Yale student can be effectively implemented.
Finally and by now predictably, I protest against the horrifying vision of the YCC as a body that “interferes in” and “investigates” undergraduate organizations. With all due respect to its current members, let me use the example of the Yale College Chess Club used in Geraki’s article. The article argues for YCC intervention on the premise that “the university never lacks chess players, but few of them are willing to put together and administer an organization.” Yale, of all places, is what its students make of it. If there aren’t any who will take the time and energy to maintain a club, then so be it. What business has the YCC to intervene and forcibly maintain an organization that no one wishes to run?
This suggestion would have been a great hit in the erstwhile Soviet Union — not only for its ideology but also for its impracticability. If indeed the YCC steps in and decides to maintain a club or organization that none are willing to run, who will run the club in actuality? Will it be placed under the control of the YCC president? The vice president? Or would it be under joint control of the secretary and the treasurer? A dozen such “takeovers” will ensure that the number of resolutions passed by the YCC diminishes even further, as our elected members run various “orphaned” organizations.
I conclude with my sincerest apologies to Geraki and the Chess Club, but firmly reiterate that the YCC is certainly not as bad as we sometimes make it out to be. It is, after all, a bunch of Yale students as committed as anyone else to positively influence student life at Yale.
Nikhil Seshan is a sophomore in Saybrook College.