After a year spent at the helm of the Sophomore Class Council, John Gonzalez ’14 is eager to take the next step.
Gonzalez said that experience leading a council now qualifies him for the job of YCC president. His platform combines current YCC initiatives as well as ideas he has gleaned from conversations with other students. Those who have worked with Gonzalez say his innovative ideas, organizational skills and genial personality are well-suited to lead a council as diverse as the YCC.
As president, Gonzalez said he would take simple steps to make students’ academic experiences smoother. He will try to convince Yale’s administration to notify students sooner about seminar acceptances and change the Credit/D/Fail policy so that students can switch from taking a class for a letter grade to taking it Credit/D/Fail after the semester has begun. Like YCC candidates in previous years, Gonzalez advocates for the creation of language certificates in order to motivate students to take more language classes.
Gonzalez’s platform focuses extensively on reforming Yale dining, recommending such changes as dinner swipes at Durfee’s, an expansion of hours at Uncommon, more power outlets in Commons Dining Hall and dining options for students who stay on campus for fall and spring breaks. He also said Yale should hold a “dining worker appreciation day.”
“I find our lack of interaction with dining staff sad,” he said. “If we had a day to appreciate all that they do, relationships will improve.”
Other initiatives he proposes are aimed at improving student life. For example, Gonzalez would create a comprehensive events calendar with the option to receive alerts on specific categories of events such as Master’s Teas or musical performances. He also advocates supporting underrepresented segments of the school’s population, such as athletes, through the appointment of athletic events chairs to publicize competitions, or student programmers through increased computer science offerings.
“He thinks of things and considers people’s situations that other people don’t [consider],” said Caroline Smith ’14, current SoCo vice president. She added that, in planning the Sophomore Dinner, Gonzalez was the only person to remember that there had to be kosher food.
Gonzalez pointed to his role in developing SoCo as an indication of his leadership abilities. SoCo was only created several years ago, he said, and as a result, it was not known for getting much done. He said he did not inherit many resources or traditions, and had to build them himself. Throughout his tenure, Gonzalez said, he accumulated a network of contacts and established several programs targeted to meet sophomores’ needs. These include UCS career assessment tests, designed to guide sophomores toward career paths based on their interests and strengths. Gonzalez also sent out weekly emails listing upcoming academic and summer deadlines.
Under his guidance, SoCo also hosted a record number of events this year, including the Sophomore Snowball Dance in December, Sophomore Assassins in February and the Sophomore Dinner, which will take place later this month. Though the council has an overall budget of only $3,000, Gonzalez pursued and succeeded in securing funding from external sources such as the Yale Corporation and the Association of Yale Alumni.
“He really puts his heart into these events,” Smith said. “He has so much heart — and he puts it into everything he does.”
Nancy Xia ’15, current FCC vice-chair and SoCo presidential candidate, said she sat in on several SoCo meetings to observe Gonzalez lead. She said that, though he was clearly in charge, his relaxed and joking demeanor put other council members at ease.
Aside from serving as SoCo president, Gonzalez is also a YCC associate member and a volunteer tutor through the Dwight Hall Academic Mentoring Program at Yale. He was previously an elected member of the Freshman Class Council.
Clarification: April 11
A previous version of this article paraphrased YCC presidential candidate John Gonzalez ’14 as saying that he is the only candidate for YCC president to have led a council. However, fellow presidential candidate Eric Eliasson ’14 also has experience as a former Freshman Class Council chair.