As the delayed elections for this year’s Sophomore Class Council take place this week, debate has arisen among members of student government about whether the fledgling organization is an unnecessary part of an already overcomplicated student government.
The SCC was created by a group of sophomores last year and officially placed under the jurisdiction of the YCC through a constitutional amendment in the spring. YCC Secretary Zach Marks ’09 said the sophomore council has a decentralizing effect on the Council, making it less efficient. But others involved in student government said the SCC fills an important niche by addressing sophomores’ specific concerns.
In this week’s elections, only seven residential colleges are voting for SCC representatives. No sophomores in Ezra Stiles, Pierson, Trumbull, Saybrook or Silliman colleges registered to run in the elections, YCC Vice President Steve Engler ’07 said.
Marks said he is not sure there are enough sophomore-only issues to warrant the existence of another body.
“There is always a concern that government will become so big that it is no longer … effective,” he said. “If we have a sophomore class council, then shouldn’t we have a junior class council? At some point, we’re just creating a bunch of branches of bureaucracy.”
But YCC representative Emily Schofield ’09 said she thinks the SCC allows the YCC to spend more time on issues relevant to the entire student body.
“I had been working in a group with some other people on sophomore-related issues for the entire first few months of this term,” she said. “I felt like it was a waste of YCC resources to be addressing class-specific issues when it was in our constitution that we would have a body to do that.”
Schofield said she does not understand why the SCC is considered a burden while the Freshman Class Council, which also falls under the jurisdiction of the YCC, is not.
The late date of the SCC election is a result of a miscommunication between the YCC Executive Board and the students who headed up last year’s SCC about who would lead the effort to recruit new members, Engler said. The YCC attempted to enlist students to run for the SCC earlier in the year but found little interest, he said.
Engler said although last year’s sophomore council did good work, he was opposed to setting up SCC elections this year because he thinks the SCC drains talented, dedicated students from the YCC candidate pool.
“At Yale there are not a huge number of people who want to be involved in student government,” Engler said. “What you are doing is taking out another 12 people who might have run for YCC … It is going to be taking away from people who would be working on the same issues on YCC.”
But Jen James ’08, who helped found the SCC last year, said she thinks the SCC attracts students who might never consider running for the YCC or who are unsuccessful in YCC races.
“This was another way to get involved,” she said. “This is an alternative where people can still do things at Yale without running for YCC.”
Last year, James said, the SCC organized social events for sophomores and created a Web site that deals with academic and residential aspects of sophomore life. A sophomore council is still needed to address issues such as creating sophomore seminar classes and improving communication between sophomores and Undergraduate Career Services about the resources they offer, James said.
Elections for YCC representatives also conclude today. The elections were originally scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday but were pushed back in order to schedule a special election to fill the seat of Dave Roosth ’09, who vacated his post after being confirmed as YCC Treasurer on Sunday, Marks said.