The Yale College Council created a Junior Class Committee on Sunday in the hopes of fostering a greater sense of unity and connectedness among members of the junior class.
The committee will operate under the auspices of the YCC and will consist of a currently undetermined number of students in the class of 2009 from all 12 residential colleges. Council officials said the committee will focus primarily on social events and functions for the junior class, while working in tandem with the YCC on broader issues related to student life.
The final form the committee will take represents a compromise between those in student government who advocated a system of electoral representation to the Committee and those who argued for an indirect appointment process, which ultimately made it in to the final resolution.
Juniors interviewed said while they are cautiously optimistic about the new body, they are waiting to see how the JCC carves out a niche that separates it from other student government organizations.
YCC officials said the original proposal — which argued for the creation of a body similar to the Sophomore Class Council — was modified to call for a committee in order to reduce bureaucratic redundancies. YCC officers ultimately settled on the committee format because they believe it is the most efficient way to form a junior class body while minimizing potential interference among student government groups at the administrative level, YCC Secretary David Narotsky ’09 said.
YCC President Rebecca Taber ’08 said the Council chose the selection process in order to streamline the creation of the JCC.
“We weren’t getting enough interest from people who wanted to run from all the colleges, so the idea was to let everyone participate with these stringent [election] rules,” she said. “How many elections can we put Yalies through?”
Ryan Russell ’09, who represents Calhoun College on the YCC, said it is unclear at this point how many students will serve on JCC. The goal, he said, is to ensure that each residential college has at least some representation on the Committee. Applications will be accepted from all members of the junior class, said Russell, who will review the submissions.
But Russell said he thinks elections would have made JCC members accountable to students and helped generate interest in serving on the JCC.
“It’s taking the power to choose committee members out of the students’ hands and [giving it] to one member of the YCC,” he said. “Once they’re chosen, what responsibility do [committee members] have to spread the word to their class when they’re not reporting to any constituency?”
Russell, who was selected by the YCC to serve as the Council’s liaison to the new committee, said the creation of the committee arose from a desire to build greater unity within the junior class, as well as a perceived lack of focus on junior-specific issues within student government. The YCC’s schoolwide focus can sometimes leave class-specific issues without a forum, Russell said.
But former SCC member Reid Wittman ’09 said a junior-class student-government organization will provide the class with activities more tailored to their specific interests.
“When you’re a freshman or a sophomore, you’re allowed to make stupid mistakes,” Wittman said. “But as juniors, you realize you only have a year and a half left, and you start stressing about tomorrow a lot more. They say college is supposed to be the best four years of your life — we want to bring a few events that people will look back on and say, ‘Wow, I’m really happy I went to that.’”
Members of the class of 2009 said they had mixed opinions about the new body’s formation. Most said they will withhold their judgment on its effectiveness until they understand better what it hopes to accomplish.
Caio Camargo ’09 said he sees parallels between the new body and the SCC, about which most students did not know much when it formed last December.
“People had a lot of doubts about SCC, but it turned out pretty well,” Camargo said. “I don’t think there’s a particularly pressing need for [a JCC], but I don’t see any reason why not.”
Emily Finn ’09 said she thinks the committee will prove useful in addressing junior-specific issues, although she is skeptical of the need for more junior-only events and activities.
Among the activities planned by last year’s SCC were “Sophomore Soulmates” — an online matchmaking questionnaire — and a class-wide game of Assassins.