These last weeks have been tumultuous for our country. Events in Ferguson and Staten Island have stirred anger and exasperation in the hearts of many. Two sets of parents have lost their sons. Regardless of your opinion on what has transpired, this fact alone should leave us all profoundly saddened.
In this context, I feel strange writing about a calendar initiative. To some, it may seem tone-deaf and maybe even callous. Yet due to overwhelming student passion on this issue, combined with the fact that today, the last day of classes, is my final opportunity to express an opinion, I felt compelled to write.
Next year’s provisional academic calendar does not have finals scheduled to end until Dec. 23. This arrangement would impose significant financial and logistical burdens on all of us, and cause deep sadness for some by stealing their Christmas.
Thus, the Yale College Council has proposed to move the calendar up one week to begin classes on Aug. 26 instead of Sept. 2. To provide a little context, this year classes began on Aug. 27.
We recognize this proposal is imperfect. In particular, it would necessitate the quick, 12-day turnaround from the end of summer session to the opening of residences that caused difficulty for facilities this past year. The rapid turnaround from summer session to preorientation programs would be duplicated. Our facilities staff members are hardworking individuals, and it is unfair to consistently place this burden on them year after year.
But next year’s calendar is egregious. It requires a decisive, one-time, short-term solution.
On Monday, the YCC sent a one-question poll to the student body in order to quantify the intensity of sentiments surrounding the calendar and, in particular, our proposed solution. The results were overwhelming. Out of 2,721 respondents, 2,512, or 92 percent, expressed support for our initiative.
The YCC has never in its recorded history received the same level of support on any policy initiative. In terms of both participation and approval, this calendar solution has united student opinion in an unprecedented fashion. While we have had some very popular initiatives in the past, none of them have garnered such widespread consensus.
It is important for us, as students, to make sure our voice is heard, especially when what we care about most is on the line. The YCC maintains a running dialogue with administrators on pressing campus issues. But we are more likely to get the results we want when we demonstrate our resolve.
We do not necessarily need to be confrontational. Our actions can be as innocuous as singing holiday songs. Yale administrators are deeply caring, thoughtful individuals who have chosen to devote their lives to serving students, and I am confident we can work with them to find a solution. But we need your help.
I call upon the members of Yale College to join us on Beinecke Plaza today at 3 p.m. for caroling in support of the YCC’s calendar initiative. We know this tactic can work because we have seen it work before. In the critically acclaimed film “Elf,” the people of New York City gather in Central Park to sing “loud for all to hear” and save Christmas. We hope to replicate that success today.
The event will be not be long; those planning on attending the rally on the New Haven Green at 4 p.m. will have plenty of time to spare.
The YCC’s job, first and foremost, is to be a tireless advocate on behalf of the student body. We are committed to doing everything we can to champion the causes that matter most to our community. Today, our cause is next year’s calendar. Tomorrow it could be financial aid, mixed-gender housing or sexual misconduct. Ultimately, the ball is in the administration’s court, but we’ll do whatever it takes to make sure our voice is heard both literally and figuratively. And we know our voice is strongest when we all sing.
So join us today on the plaza at 3. And together we will raise our voices in glee.
Michael Herbert is a junior in Saybrook College. He is the president of the Yale College Council. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.