The Yale College Council candidates for office term 2006-07 convened officially for the first time at a mandatory orientation meeting Thursday evening.

At the meeting, YCC Vice President Marissa Brittenham ’07 spoke to the candidates about the election rules. The candidates will be allowed to begin their restricted private campaign today by e-mailing their friends about their candidacy, but they cannot begin their public campaign until next Friday. Campus-wide voting will occur online April 9-11.

This year, the YCC presidential race features five candidates: Emery Choi ’07, Stephen Fedele ’07, Bill Fishel ’08, Wells O’Byrne ’07 and Larry Wise ’08. There are three contenders for YCC vice-president: Gabe Davis ’07, Govind Rangrass ’08 and Steven Engler ’07.

YCC Treasurer is a race between Priya Prasad ’08 and Daniel Seifert ’09, while Jeff Sun ’08 and Zach Marks ’09 are contending for the position of YCC Secretary. Thomas Hsieh ’08, Michael Ma ’09, Ned Mitchell ’09 and Hassan Siddiq ’08 are running for Undergraduate Organizations Funding Committee Chair, and Karla Martinez ’08 and Michael Lehmann ’08 are seeking the office of Yale Student Activities Committee Chair.

Brittenham said new pre-campaign election rules are in place to regulate what candidates in the past had been doing under the table, such as informing close friends of their candidacy prior to official announcements. Brittenham said the election rules are deliberately strict to ensure fairness in the election.

“It’s an intense, exciting time, and candidates might go overboard if there were no rules,” she said. “The rules also mitigate the student body from overreacting with too much fervor during this time.”

The Election Committee, a group of four students who were nominated by their residential colleges — Samuel Byrne ’09, Ryan Villanueva ’08, Norrisa Haynes ’08 and Ravi Agarwal ’06 — will oversee elections and punish any candidate who violates YCC election guidelines, Brittenham said.

The committee can punish candidates by cutting their campaign spending limit of $60, revoking campaign e-mailing privileges, forcing removal of portions of posters and table tents, publicizing a candidate’s infractions or, in extreme cases, removing them from the race.

“Revoking candidacy only occurs if the candidate flagrantly violates campaign procedure,” Villanueva said. “This hasn’t ever happened, to my knowledge.”

Current YCC President Steven Syverud ’06 and Secretary Kasdin Miller ’07 were penalized last year with a deduction in their campaign spending limits for submitting their statements of candidacy late.

The YCC presidential candidates offered a variety of ideas for policies that they would try to implement if elected.

Fishel said he plans to continue the expansion of the campus cash program.

“My ultimate goal is to make the student ID card essentially the debit card to use in New Haven,” he said.

Choi said that if he is elected, he will help undergraduate organizations gain more prominence on campus.

“I am the best qualified for the position,” he said. “I’d like to make life easier for [student] organizations.”

Wise said he would work to expand financial aid to middle-income families.

“Yale should be part of the American dream,” he said. “And to do that, we need to attract the best applicants across America.”

Significant expansion of the sustainable food project to improve dining hall quality and increased communication with the student body were two of the main goals O’Byrne set out in his platform.

“I think I’m a trustworthy candidate,” he said. “I’m always accessible to those who want to tell me their concerns, and they know that I’ll do something about it.”

Meanwhile, Fedele said he would work to implement universal key card access on campus and “destroy Swing Space.”

“There’s a lot of stuff at Yale that needs to be changed that all the other candidates aren’t going to change,” he said. “I’m the only one offering to make these important changes.”

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