Andy Hill is one of three candidates running for president of the Yale College Council. Voting begins on April 9.
When I joined the Yale College Council last fall, I heard some things that shocked me. Council members had been defeated, again and again, by the same university officials they’d been elected to advise.
“Well, hopefully, the administration considers our proposals,” my fellow students would say, glumly leafing through reports they’d spent weeks, months, even years creating. I couldn’t believe it. After all the time they’d put in, the best we could hope for was that the administration might look at their work?
Simply put, that’s bogus. The YCC was created to ensure a legitimate voice for students in Yale’s governance and 43 years after its formation, it has yet to provide one.
But there’s still time to make that happen. The “Unite Yale” protest last weekend exemplified the way students can collaborate to achieve their goals. Whether or not you agree with everything the protesters stood for, every student ought to get behind the one reason that brought hundreds of cultural house representatives, environmental activists and even Law School students together — having their voice heard. That’s what the YCC’s goal should be: facilitating connections between student groups like those, and linking them personally to administrators.
Next year, let’s make it happen together. Next year, let’s believe in we.
Together, we can create new initiatives that will make Yale sit up and take notice. Initiatives like a political action council, made up of representatives from SUN, Fossil Free Yale and other activist groups. A PAC like that could work to encourage collaborative projects targeted at revisiting divestment and financial aid reform. We will make it happen.
We can design an Intercultural Affairs Council that allows cultural house members to voice their problems directly to house administrators, and prevent more from occurring. We’ll make that happen, too. We can help facilitate a student-led Interfraternity Council as well, one that would encourage collaborative fun, safe and philanthropic events, or an Athletics Council that nips problems like the Spring Fling date fiasco in the bud. We can do every one of these things, and we will.
However, this connection of students is only the beginning. If we’re going to truly unify and organize the student body, we must ensure accountability. One of the best windows into Yale’s administration we’ve got is the university standing committees, so let’s use them better than we are now. YCC representatives should work with every standing committee on campus to get student members in the room with actual administrators. That way, we’ll keep administrators accountable by making them respond directly to us in the moment. To keep student committee members accountable, we’ll replace those who stop showing up after the first meeting so that the admins can trust us too. By connecting these organizations to Yale, we can make real progress on the most important issues we face — from sexual assault prevention to mental health reforms — without waiting 10 years for anything to happen.
But, most importantly, we need to connect Yalies directly to the highest level. Most importantly, we need to get a student voice onto the Yale Corporation.
When the 19 members of that board meet to make decisions — decisions that affect all of us — they don’t usually ask about it first. Instead, they go into a room at some unpublished time and in some unknown location and make the call. Once those doors close, how can we ever know that any of our proposals are seriously considered? The answer’s easy: we can’t possibly be sure.
If we get a student member on the Corporation’s board, we won’t have to just hope that our voice is heard any more. As bright-eyed, rosy-cheeked prefrosh, we were all promised that at Yale, undergrads matter. Now, we ask the administration to deliver on that promise. Let’s make it happen, together.
I’ve already set the wheels in motion: three weeks ago, I spoke with Yale College Dean Jonathan Holloway about getting a student seat on the Yale Corporation, and he gave me his support. We finally have an opening, so let’s take it and run with it.
Our Yale community is made up of hundreds of smaller communities. The only way to have our voice truly heard is to unite as one student body and fight for it. That’s why my campaign is centered on one word: “we.” The only way WE can affect real change is to unite.
The YCC doesn’t just need another president. It needs a community organizer. Let’s give administration a chance to take our collective voice seriously — and if they do not, let’s demand it. Our voice will not fall on deaf ears because the voice of 5,400 students is deafening. This time, WE will be heard.
This election, believe in we.
Andy Hill is a sophomore in Ezra Stiles College. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org .