For the members of the Yale College Council Executive Board who gathered in Linsly-Chittenden Hall on Friday night to tabulate the results of last week’s elections, the vote-counting party was something of an anti-climax.
While competition for seats on this year’s Freshman Class Council was fierce in some colleges, spots on the YCC were in many cases uncontested or uncompetitive, with a number of council veterans cruising to re-election. For the 12 positions on the Yale Student Activities Committee up for grabs, a total of only 19 students threw their hats in the ring.
Of the 12 FCC throwdowns, seven had more than six freshmen vying for two spots. But of the 12 YCC races, only five had more than three contenders, and only four of the 12 YSAC races were contested.
Board members didn’t let the lack of suspense get them down. With energetic music blaring in the background, President Rich Tao ’10, Vice President Emily Schofield ’09, Treasurer Jon Wu ’11 and Secretary Jasper Wang ’10 whipped out their cell phones and delivered congratulatory phone calls to the 60 students who will comprise Yale’s student government this year.
The larger pool and relative anonymity in the FCC race as opposed to the YCC race made that election more competitive, YCC officers said as they examined the results of the election.
“This can be expected,” Wang said. Freshmen have only two weeks to get to know each other before the elections, he said, and the limited time forces them to vote on image and publicity rather than competency.
By comparison, upperclassmen who have already participated in YCC elections and witnessed a year of YCC governance tend to stick with representatives they are familiar with, Wang said — thus the “lopsided” results in some colleges.
“[Older] students don’t care to speculate,” he said. “They recognize that some [of the candidates] are incumbent, so there’s a constituency.”
Newly elected Berkeley College representative Katherine Woodfield ’10 agreed.
“In Berkeley since we only had two people running for two spots, it wasn’t even really an election,” she wrote in an e-mail. “I knew I would win.”
But Vidur Sehgal ’10, who will represent Ezra Stiles College on the YCC this year, said in an e-mail that the competitiveness of the race had made him unsure of whether he would be elected.
“I was definitely not sure about anything because there were four other extremely qualified, experienced and well-known people in my race,” he wrote after learning of his victory.
Sehgal said he was tempted to enter the competitive race after watching the transformation of the YCC last year, from a body that focused mostly on passing resolutions in support of various causes to a series of subcommittees working on specific proposals.
“Over the past year, the YCC has been reformed internally and has become a lot more effective,” he wrote.
Many FCC candidates, such as newly minted Morse College representative A.T. McWilliams ’12, said they were interested in continuing work in student council after serving as leaders of similar organizations in high school.
But some questioned the utility of elections held just two weeks after freshmen arrived on campus.
“I voted for Nick [Dyen ’12] because his posters were funniest, he wrote me a poem and because he looks like a nice guy,” said Sam Lee ’12, a member of Morse College.
Lee admitted that he was “hesitant but hopeful” that the winners would achieve what they promised during their year on the FCC.
Qualified or not, FCC elected members had to prove themselves worthy of their roles as they gathered for their first meeting.
“Our first meeting’s on Sunday, so be ready to work,” Wang said in his phone calls to newly elected representatives.