Ben Martin is one of three candidates running for president of the Yale College Council. Voting begins on April 9.
Your frustrations have been the same as mine: infinite promises every year without meaningful change. Meanwhile, mental health policy is left unclear with students falling through the cracks, the financial burden on students has increased over the last decade through the student contribution. Student concerns fall on deaf ears as cultural houses — quite literally — fall apart, and student athletes are shown anything but support with Spring Fling in direct conflict with their schedules. We are not hearing student concerns or responding to these groups’ issues.
As Yale College Council president, I would focus on garnering support from community leaders: heads of extracurricular organizations, presidents of fraternities and sororities and sports captains. Without the support of the student body, our proposals have no power. That is the essence of the problem: The YCC should not focus on ourselves or even the administration. The focus needs to be on the students; we are a body that serves you.
You will see that I have left my platform deliberately and permanently incomplete. Perhaps as president I am supposed to pretend to have every answer, every solution — the perfect vision. I don’t. I am a computer science and mathematics major who stays up too late doing an endless cycle of work and tries to find the time for food, friends and sleep. I am just one student with one set of experiences. I invite you now to share your thoughts and your experiences with me. I hope to hear your opinions and concerns and to translate them into a unified voice, one that makes campus a better place by the end of my term than it was at the beginning. I hope you will give me that opportunity to represent you and your concerns.
I want to be more than just another slogan, another face, another flyer. What makes me different is that I see the imperfections of the YCC. Great improvements have been made to the internal structure of the council and relationships with administration, but this still has not translated into a substantive impact on campus for one simple reason: We are not community leaders, you are.
The fact of the matter is that no one looks to their YCC representative for leadership in their communities at Yale. It is the cultural houses, the publications and the volunteers on campus that lead the student body; in trying to build up the legitimacy and prestige of our own organization, we have lost touch with our mission, to best represent you. We need to ensure that we are hearing campus leaders and building relationships, so that we can advance their interests and push for greater concessions.
I cannot promise you that a student-driven approach to the YCC will get you an infallible Yale Health next year or a complete elimination of the student contribution, but I can promise to make your concerns my top priority. I can promise that when things do fall into disrepair or when students are adversely impacted by a simple scheduling error, I will take action. I will meet with the campus leaders who know the pulse of campus, and I will empower students to create the campus that they envision.
I invite you to look at my platform and see how I would fight to integrate technology into the YCC with a survey app and how I will align Yale Health’s policies with the needs of students. I encourage you to investigate how I would take immediate steps to alleviate the difficulties of students trying to meet the self-help and SIC while working toward the larger goal of eliminating that financial burden altogether.
Although the position of YCC president changes from year to year, it is important not to lose sight of the larger goals: improving mental health resources, removing student financial hardships and creating a culture where all students are heard. While we strive toward these ideals, we must take small, concrete steps to improve students’ everyday lives. That is my vision for Yale.
Ben Martin is a sophomore in Ezra Stiles College. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org .