Environmentalism, not turnout, inspired digitization of elections

To the Editor:

The SAT subject tests used to have a section in which the student had to read two statements and decide whether they were true and, if they were, whether they were related. Similarly, while it is true that YCC elections would be better if people were more informed about the candidates, and it is true that using less paper use is a good thing, they are completely unrelated thoughts.

The YCC is reducing the number of posters and table-tents in this election in order to run a more environmentally sustainable election. It has nothing to do with increasing interest in elections. That being said, by shifting the elections to a more digital format, people will have more of an opportunity to participate in the elections than ever before. Not only do we anticipate candidates making their own Web sites and blogs, but the YCC will also host a general election Web site on YaleStation where students can read candidacy statements a week before elections as opposed to two seconds before they vote. That’s never been done. We are excited about bringing our elections up to speed with the marvels of technology. It’s 2007, baby!

And does the News seriously think that people will talk less about elections because there will be fewer posters? Since when does something have to be printed on dead trees for people to obsess over it? Facebook, anyone? My guess is that this year’s race will be pretty heated.

FYI, another governmental body finds it difficult to get out the vote: the U.S. Congress. The 2006 congressional election, one of the most popular ones in history, had a 36.8 percent voter turnout. Well over a majority of students vote in ours.

Steven Engler ’07

April 10

The writer is vice president of the Yale College Council and a staff columnist for the News.

New rules render candidates’ own connections excessively important

To the Editor:

The new YCC poster restrictions will ensure the campaign is focused on people, not issues. That’s great if you’re a YCC representative with lots of quotes in the News and name recognition. If not, it’s unnecessarily hard to get your voice heard. The rules specify that candidates can only e-mail people they know. If the rules are followed, most Yalies won’t read the platforms of people they aren’t acquainted with before voting (assuming they read their e-mails at all). By the time most students go to vote, their mind is already made up and an online candidacy statement won’t change it. While students can get information about unknown candidates on blogs and Web sites, let’s face it — most won’t. Good, old-fashioned table tents and posters are a welcome distraction when eating in a dining hall or wasting time before class. For this reason, they’re a great way to get information across. I’m sitting in Commons writing this letter on my laptop, surrounded by multicolored fliers advertising a book drive, a bone marrow drive, Relay for Life, the hospital workers union and a discussion on HIV sponsored by InSight. These organizations wouldn’t use table tents if they weren’t a good way to raise awareness. Candidates use table tents and posters to talk about issues and to garner interest for their campaigns — and even people they don’t know can read them!

Severely limiting paper advertising will ensure that the election will go to the student with the best connections, not the student with the best ideas. Environmentalism is no excuse: An online campaign means more time spent on computers and more undeleted e-mails languishing on Yale servers for years at a time — both of which require coal or natural gas energy. I’d like to see a YCC campaign that’s about issues, not panlist friendship, and these new restrictions make that impossible.

Katherine Booth ’08

April 10

The writer is in Branford College.