The Yale College Council election season is heating up as candidates vie for endorsements from Yale’s cultural houses, fraternities, political groups and other student organizations before polls open this Sunday.
The Asian American Students Association and the Black Student Alliance at Yale held endorsement meetings on Monday and Tuesday nights, respectively, to hear the platforms of candidates for the YCC Executive Board, Yale Student Activities Committee and Undergraduate Organizations Funding Committee. Larry Wise ’08 won the AASA endorsement for president, while Emery Choi ’07, another presidential candidate, earned BSAY’s approval.
Though the YCC’s general endorsement meeting was originally scheduled for this evening, the event may be canceled because of lack of interest from student groups, YCC Vice President Marissa Brittenham ’07 said.
BSAY co-moderator Christina White ’07 said she thinks the cultural house endorsement meetings are important for promoting dialogue between the Council and minority groups at Yale.
“I think it’s important to open up the lines of communication between the YCC and BSAY … to make it known that the black community has a voice and the YCC should consider it,” White said.
BSAY also endorsed Gabe Davis ’07 for vice president, Priya Prasad ’08 for treasurer, Zach Marks ’09 for secretary, Karla Martinez ’08 for YSAC chair and Hassan Siddiq ’08 for UOFC chair. The AASA endorsed vice presidential hopeful Govind Rangrass ’08, Prasad and Marks for the YCC Executive Board and Ned Mitchell ’09 for the UOFC. The group did not make an endorsement for YSAC chair because the two candidates tied.
Marks is a contributing reporter for the News.
YCC presidential hopefuls delivered short statements and fielded questions from BSAY members on Tuesday night about how they plan to promote campus diversity and additional financial aid reform. While all of the candidates for president stressed the need for increased communication between the YCC and the cultural houses, they proposed different strategies for tackling racial issues on campus.
Candidate Wells O’Byrne ’07 said he favored setting practical, long-term goals, such as reforming the ethnic counseling system, while Bill Fishel ’08 said he hopes to help facilitate a Black History Month event through the Committee for Campus-Wide Activities next year. Choi said he wants the YCC to help organize a forum on racial issues, while Wise said he hopes to incorporate the message of respect and “common values” into Camp Yale activities for freshmen.
“The forum was an idea that was put forth by the members of the cultural communities here,” Choi said. “We should help out … and take other people’s ideas and make them happen.”
The candidates for vice president locked horns over their approaches to dealing with the University administration, especially when administrators are hesitant or unwilling to follow the Council’s recommendations. Davis said the YCC Executive Board needs to be more aggressive when working with Yale officials, and he criticized his opponents for focusing too much on small issues, such as soap in residential college bathrooms. Current YCC representatives Rangrass and Steve Engler ’07 said consensus building and working with the administration is the only way to achieve the Council’s goals.
“I think that my opponents would rather cozy up to them than confront them,” Davis said. “I’m not talking about radical action; I’m talking about aggressive action.”
In the absence of a Yale Political Union candidates debate this year, Prasad, who is also a co-moderator of the AASA, said the cultural house endorsement meetings are especially important for both acquainting students with the candidates’ platforms and receiving feedback.
“It’s a good chance to let people know who you are and that you are willing to listen to them,” Prasad said.
Presidential candidate Stephen Fedele ’07, who refers to himself as “RSteve,” did not attend either endorsement meeting.
“I don’t understand the point of endorsements,” Fedele said. “What do they get you?”
Candidates are not allowed to begin their public campaigns until Friday morning, and voting will run from Sunday morning through Tuesday night.