This year’s vice presidential field was the fullest and also one of the strongest in recent memory. Several of the candidates have Yale College Council experience and all presented fairly ambitious ideas for taking on the position of vice president, which will have a more policy-oriented focus next year. However, Annie Shi ’12 stood out as the candidate with the best vision for the role of YCC vice president, and the one whom we could see effectively driving YCC policy discussions on a weekly basis.
Most of the candidates focused heavily on pursuing an aggressive, if largely unrealistic, academic agenda, pushing for academic minors and language certificates, Credit/D/Fail classes counting toward distribution requirements and making science labs count for one credit. While these may be popular issues among students, we believe the likelihood that any huge changes will be made in the College’s academic policy this fall —even with the Committee on Yale College Education review — is remote.
Another recurring theme in our interviews was increasing openness and communication between the student body and the YCC. While several candidates laid out vague plans to generate more student interest in what the council is doing, we believe that Shi is best equipped to bring together student organizations and shape productive discussion within the YCC.
In terms of policy initiatives, we were impressed by Justine Kolata’s ’12 strong commitment to improving mental health resources on campus, both institutional and student-driven, as we believe that to be an issue ripe for YCC to tackle. In addition, we appreciated Guillermo Peralta’s ’12 focus on financial aid, as it is an issue with the potential to impact a great many students. For the most part, however, substantive differences between the various candidates’ platforms were hard to come by.
Where we really saw differences in the candidates, therefore, was in how they hoped to set the tone for the YCC. While many candidates have good ideas, Shi showed the best understanding of what her role would be as vice president – running meetings and providing strong and enthusiastic leadership for the council’s initiatives. We were also impressed by her candor about the problems in the way in which YCC meetings are currently run and her ideas to better incorporate YCC representatives on issues outside their specific policy groups. Finally, on a policy side, she advanced sophomore advising, which was refreshing in a contest where candidates presented such similar platforms.
In the end, Shi’s ability to efficiently and constructively coordinate collaboration on a wide range of policy issues and her plans to involve student groups and administrators in a more open YCC set her apart. In addition to her past FCC and YCC experience, we are most confident in her ability to work well with any of the presidential candidates toward a productive and effective year.