The effectiveness of the Yale College Council has long been the butt of student jokes, but this year’s YCC officers hope to change that stereotype, once and for all.
Frustrated by the Council’s inefficiency and bureaucracy in recent years, the YCC Executive Board has redesigned the organization’s committee structure and meeting format in an effort to make the Council more effective at improving student life. The changes will be ushered in along with 24 new residential college representatives in the Council’s elections on Wednesday and Thursday.
Last year’s weekly Sunday meetings were often devoted to debating resolutions about changes in student life that YCC members wished to see enacted by the University, said YCC President Rebecca Taber ’08. This year, Council meetings will feature more discussion about ongoing YCC projects, as well as suggestions from other students about how to achieve the Council’s goals, she said.
The YCC’s Wednesday meetings will be eliminated, and the Executive Board — comprised of Taber, Vice President Emily Schofield ’09, Treasurer Harrison Marks ’10 and Secretary Dave Narotsky ’09 — will use the time to meet individually with teams working on specific projects.
The goal of the smaller meetings is to help representatives navigate the financial and administrative obstacles they will face when attempting to win changes to University policy, Taber said.
“We [on the Executive Board] have all felt at times that reps were not given the direction they needed to accomplish the issues or the projects they were working on or were forced to spend too much time debating a resolution on laundry machines when a lot of us were not there for that purpose,” Taber said.
Board members will also use the Wednesday meetings to make the Council’s resources, including its access to University administrators, more available to college representatives, Narotsky said.
“The addition of [Dean of Student Affairs Marichal] Gentry is going to be huge,” Nartosky said. “We already met with him, and he seemed really positive and excited about working with the YCC.”
Taber will meet with Gentry each week to discuss representatives’ projects, Schofield said. This year’s board members will be careful to stick to their officially defined responsibilities and not take up tasks for which other Council members should be responsible, she said.
“We are trying to follow [the YCC Constitution] a little more closely because it really does make sense to have a division of our efforts so we don’t all duplicate each other’s work,” Schofield said.
Taber will be the Council’s “front line” with the Yale College Dean’s Office, while Schofield will handle internal YCC affairs, such as organizing meetings and coordinating project assignments. As treasurer, Marks will keep tabs on the finances of the YCC’s various affiliate organizations — including the Undergraduate Organizations Funding Committee, the Committee for Campus-wide Activities and the Yale Student Activities Committee — and Narotsky will be in charge of reaching out to student groups and managing communications with the student body in his capacity as secretary, Schofield said.
The Council is also restructuring the committee system by allowing members to move on and off of project teams as issues arise, instead of assigning representatives to broader areas — such as dining or financial aid — where they will remain for the entire year, Taber said.
“When you have financial aid or dining committees, it’s hard to know whether you are actually making progress,” she said. “Instead of having a financial aid committee, there would be a project team of individuals who care about, for example, reducing student contributions who would work on that issue.”
When the Council begins meeting regularly this Sunday, it will take up issues that new representatives want to work on as well as projects initiated by previous YCC members. Ongoing YCC goals include permanently expanding last year’s Ninth at Nite discount program with restaurants in Ninth Square, arranging a conference for high-achieving low-income high school students from around New Haven, and pushing for the introduction of a “Campus Cash” system that would allow Yalies to consolidate various campus payment accounts onto their student ID cards and use those cards to pay for meals at off-campus restaurants.
Elections for the 24 residential college seats on the Council will run from 9 a.m. Wednesday until 9 p.m. Thursday. This year marks the first in which all YCC representatives will be elected simultaneously. The Council voted to consolidate its biannual election structure last year.