Students in six residential colleges chose new Yale College Council representatives to serve for the spring 2007 semester in elections that ended on Friday.
Representatives elected for the spring term usually serve a full year on the Council, but the newly-elected Council members will only serve until next fall when a new YCC election policy goes into effect, YCC Secretary Zach Marks ’09 said. Beginning next year, the Council will hold only one election for representatives, who will serve full academic year terms, he said.
The old election system — in which elections were staggered between the fall and spring semesters — was patterned on that of the United States Senate, which elects one-third of its members every two years in order to protect incumbents from fluctuations in public opinion, Marks said. He said he thinks the new format will make the YCC more unified and effective.
“We won’t have the situation where half the reps are either worrying about reelection or simply not coming back for next semester in the middle of the year,” Marks said. “This will make it so that reps can start at the beginning of the year, pick a project, and work on it.”
Current council members have already begun briefing the new representatives on several projects the YCC will be working on in the spring, including the creation of an online system for evaluating teaching assistants, Marks said.
David Narotsky ’09, who was elected by Saybrook College, said he plans to advocate for new projects such as requiring instructors to post class syllabi online before the beginning of each semester and setting up a library system for the Film Studies Center. He said he will push for more Council transparency by asking for more open forums and for the publication of the YCC’s weekly minutes.
Narotsky said he thinks many students find the YCC inaccessible and do not know how it affects their lives.
“All of my friends have been coming up to me and making offhand recommendations about what they would like to see,” he said. “There should be some conduit to get them to us … That way it is really student government, instead of elected-leaders government.”
Although the YCC has worked this year to improve communication with the student body by hosting several open forums and redesigning the Yale Station Web site, there is still room for improvement, said Rebecca Taber ’08, who was reelected as one of Davenport College’s representatives. Taber said she will work in the spring on expanding the residential college seminar program and pushing for plastic takeout containers to be made available in the dining halls.
Taber was one of the architects of Tuesday’s Ninth at Nite event, which kicked off a number of new, ongoing discounts for Yale students at several restaurants in the Ninth Square neighborhood of New Haven.
“Ninth at Nite shows how hard the Council has been working to take things that would normally just come and go as ideas and turn them into actual events,” she said.
But Scott Hillier ’10, the newly-elected Silliman College representative, said he thinks the YCC has sometimes been hampered in the past by a bloated bureaucracy. Although he said the Council as a whole has been “pretty effective,” he said he thinks the situation surrounding the Sophomore Class Council is evidence that Yale’s student government apparatus is overloaded.
Elections for the second Sophomore Class Council were also held last week, nearly a full semester after the YCC constitution mandates they take place. Students from just seven residential colleges sought seats on the SCC.
“At some point you need to realize that Yale College has enough in common that the YCC can probably address the issues of all classes as a whole,” Hillier said.
Hillier’s goals for the spring include asking residential college masters to allow Silliman students to study in their dining halls during reading week and finals period, he said.
The other new YCC representatives are Andrew Brannan ’09 of Branford College, Melody Pak ’09 of Morse College and Harrison Marks ’10 of Timothy Dwight College.