Members of the Yale College Council have requested that the University formally respond to all student government proposals.
YCC President Michael Herbert ’16 and YCC Vice President Maia Eliscovich Sigal ’16 met last Friday with Yale College Dean Jonathan Holloway to discuss an official framework for administrative responses to YCC proposals. While their proposed plan allows for flexibility in the timing of an administrative response, the framework calls for all YCC reports to be officially addressed with written statements by the relevant administrators. The administration must provide justifications for any decisions that they announce in its responses, the proposal stated.
Herbert said the framework came as a result of the Feb. 25 mental health open forum, where he said it was “disheartening” when Holloway said he could not commit to responding to the YCC’s earlier reports on mental health.
“We’re spending countless hours on reports, and you have a constitutionally structured student voice debating about them,” Herbert said. “We go through that entire process, and to me it makes sense that the administration will engage with that document.”
While Herbert noted students have been actively trying to voice their concerns with the administration, he added there is an inconsistency between what administrators have been saying and what they were actively doing. He said having a clear framework by which to streamline student concerns would be much more effective in gaining specific answers.
In some cases, the administration has chosen not to reply to YCC reports. YCC Academics Director David Lawrence ’15 said that last year, the YCC did not receive an official reply to its report regarding academic minors.
“Dean Holloway has been incredibly responsive, but of course there is no guarantee that this will continue with others administrators,” Lawrence said. “Having this framework in place and making sure that the administration will respond is a good idea.”
YCC representative Benjamin Martin ’17 agreed that the framework guaranteeing an official public response is necessary. He said it is not enough for the administration to verbally say they are considering a report, but that they also have to follow through in action. He noted the idea may not have come up in the past due to a lack of student faith in the YCC with regard to administrative influence.
Eliscovich Sigal said this proposal is a part of the YCC’s push to gain formally recognized means of communication with the administration. She said the administration has given positive feedback regarding their proposal, adding that the outlined process would allow both student and administrators to have more direct contact.
Students interviewed agreed that the YCC should have a role in ensuring that proper administrative responses are made. Junior Class Council President Emily Van Alst ’16 said the YCC is an important vehicle in regard to conveying campus-wide concerns, noting that the framework would be a good start in making sure student opinions are addressed.
Sumedh Guha ’17 said that although he thinks the administration has students’ best interests in mind, the administration would also do well to listen more to student complaints. He added that the YCC is currently limited by the administration’s choice of whether or not to respond.
The YCC has filed four reports thus far in the current academic year.