This weekend, the Managing Board of the News interviewed the candidates for positions on the Yale College Council executive board. The following are our endorsements:
President: Rebecca Taber
Even from the initial buzz on campus surrounding this year’s YCC presidential race, it has been clear that this year’s slate of candidates is markedly different from last year’s. The 2006 contest featured five candidates with similar platforms and fierce enough competition that each managed to break the rules at least once before the vote. But Zach Marks ’09 and Rebecca Taber ’08 seem to be good friends, and Marks’ reported rule violations seem to be nothing more than overzealous enforcement by the current YCC board and misunderstandings on the part of a couple of freshmen. The News looks forward to an amicable campaign — though Marks’, unfortunately, will be posterless — without all the negative national media attention that went along with last year’s.
As someone currently serving on the YCC executive board as secretary, Marks certainly has put himself in position to take the reins. His professionalism and charisma were impressive, and we have few serious doubts about his ability at least to maintain the status quo. He has an extensive platform with many commendable ideas, such as using comparisons with Yale’s peer schools to pressure the administration for more financial aid, reaching out to alumni to make them aware of current student concerns, and encouraging student connections with New Haven by pushing for course credit for large-scale service projects.
But it was Taber who shone during the interview. Her ideas were more practical than Marks’, her goals more achievable. As a YCC representative, she has started work on most of the projects that she would pursue as president, giving us confidence that she will continue to work on them. The News believes her experience as a two-year representative to the council, rather than as an executive board member, will provide a new, member-focused approach, a good alternative to the current divide between the leadership and the rank-and-file. Taber expressed frustration at the council’s top-heavy tendencies, and we feel that she is much better placed than Marks to solve this serious problem. She brings a fresh approach to leadership and the personality to bring together and work well with different groups of people.
Outside of intra-council affairs, her focus on solutions to specific problems will likely be more effective than Marks’ more idealistic visions. For example, her experience on the Ivy League Council inspired her to push Yale to bring the dining halls more in line with those of most other Ivies and offer takeout containers for rushed students. Other candidates have offered unrealistic promises to expand dining-hall hours dramatically, but her plan to keep one dining hall per day open for two extra hours seems feasible. Her approach to financial aid — a popular issue this year, as always — is also unique: She plans to work with that office to ensure the availability of financial aid appeals for those whose circumstances change during their time at Yale. Moreover, her organizing the “Ninth at Nite” event shows her ability to bring together various groups and implement ideas successfully.
Unfortunately, outsider candidate Brent Godfrey did not show up to present his own vision for the YCC, so this necessarily limited our choice. Both legitimate candidates had their good qualities, but by virtue of her experience and realistic goals, the News endorses Taber. Her ideas, as she admits, may seem small, but they are issues that, if pursued, will make a tangible, positive difference in student life.
Vice President: David Roosth
David Roosth ’09 stands out from the field of five vice presidential candidates for his thorough knowledge of how to get things done in the bureaucracy of the Yale administration. Roosth’s success this year in leading the charge for Campus Cash, which will consolidate campus payment accounts onto Yale ID cards and lets Yalies use their IDs to pay at off-campus restaurants, proves that he is knowledgeable both about what would help students’ lives and how to get the administration to support those endeavours. His future plans are likewise promising, as he suggests establishing permanent discounts for Yale students at local restaurants and expanding on-campus wi-fi. While some of his ideas seem ambitious, such as expanding options for meal plans or making it easier to transfer credits from abroad, Roosth understands the behind-the-scenes complexities that make these such challenges. If anyone could effect change on such complex issues, Roosth could.
Secretary: David Narotsky
The crowded field for secretary — five qualified candidates are competing — presents no immediately clear front-runner, and each candidate clearly feels passionate about making the YCC more relevant to student life. That said, David Narotsky ’09, although not the candidate with the most experience on student government, stood out for the inventiveness of his ideas of how to use the secretarial position to reach out to students and use the YCC’s links to the administration to help them implement their ideas. His idea to bring together an ad hoc council of representatives from student organizations to provide feedback and inspiration for the YCC could be an effective way of getting more students involved in setting the organization’s agenda. His plans for life skills classes likewise would involve students in the YCC who would remain aloof if not for the chance to learn how to patch a flat tire or cook dinner for two.
And while Diego Iturbe ’09 could not enumerate as clear a vision of how he would effectively reach out to a variety of students, Iturbe was able to explain in great depth the outreach lessons he has learned as co-chair of this year’s Spring Fling. His description of how he would recommend that future Fling coordinators consult with student music groups on campus before planning the day’s line-up has us convinced that he knows why the YCC’s public face is so important, but his plans for fostering broader dialogue as secretary were frustratingly amorphous.
Treasurer: Harrison Marks
Harrison Marks ’10, this fall’s Freshman Class Council chair, impressed us with his knowledge of the treasurer’s role on the YCC. His proposal to solicit input on distributing funds among the Committee for Campus-wide Activities, YSAC and the UOFC suggests that Marks is the candidate best able to tame the confusion that surrounds the plethora of sources available to subsidize organizations. Particularly, his proposals to publicize better the CCA funding competitions and strengthen the relationship between the CCA and the UOFC promises a more efficient system for holding successful campuswide events, be they parties or cultural events. While Marks’ ideas occasionally veered into the laughable, such as his proposal to lobby the Investments Office for more financial aid funding, Marks’ more down-to-earth proposals — such as cooperating with YSAC to design a survey of potential Spring Fling bands that reflects the slate of bands YCC could actually afford to hire — are the sort of ideas we can’t help but kick ourselves for not coming up with first.
Carrie Nguyen ’09 was also impressive for her clear dedication to reaching out to campus groups and helping them network with both the YCC and one another. But we felt that her proposals, such as assigning liaisons to groups to help them make their voice heard, seem inappropriate for the position of treasurer, and we wonder whether Nguyen would have been more at home running for YCC secretary. Her qualifications as co-chair of this year’s Spring Fling stood out, but in the end, we found Marks’ vision for the position of treasure more compelling.
UOFC Chair: Joshua Tan
This year’s UOFC was the cause for much complaint among students: The application was complicated and hard to fill out correctly, the group didn’t put out applications for a campuswide funding competition until late in the fall semester, and the equipment rental program needed better publicity. While all the candidates for UOFC suggested changes that, if implemented, would improve the funding available for student organizations, Joshua Tan ’09 demonstrated the best knowledge of how the UOFC works and how he could ensure it functions smoothly next year. His ideas to staff the board with more upperclassmen as opposed to just freshmen and sophomores and his focus not on raising the $600 funding cap but rather on teaching organizations how to submit successful applications so they get the full $600 are straight-forward ways to ensure a UOFC that is more effective and more accessible. Tan’s idea to create an opt-in newsletter for organizations’ treasurers is a realistic way to disseminate information on funding sources, and his idea to foster better collaboration between the CCA and UOFC — both of which offer money for campuswide activities — seems an obviously good plan.
We would encourage Tan also to work with Vidur Sehgal ’10 on implementing Sehgal’s idea of creating a written guide to the various campus funding sources open to undergraduate organizations. The majority of groups that apply for funding do not succeed in securing the full $600, and we support both Tan’s and Sehgal’s concrete proposals to make more of the current system’s potential.
The News is not endorsing in the race for YSAC Chair, as one of the candidates is on the News’ editorial board.