Joe English is one of three candidates running for president of the Yale College Council. Voting begins on April 9.
This election is not about lofty promises or trendy platforms. This election is not about speculative commitment to the Yale College Council or conveniently newfound interests in student activism. This election is about a progressive and pragmatic movement toward concrete reforms. It’s about providing a microphone for students on this campus who demand to be heard.
My experience uniquely qualifies me to lead the YCC. If elected, I will not face the typical learning curve of an incoming president. I have served on all three branches of YCC: the Council, Events Committee and Undergraduate Organizations Committee. As a freshman, I spearheaded a project to fundamentally restructure the organization and rewrote our constitution from scratch. I worked with members of the Council to rethink the YCC’s central mission, the efficiency of each branch, and the costs and benefits of specific reforms.
As a sophomore, I currently serve as chief of staff for the Executive Board. In this position, I work with President Michael Herbert ’16 to create a policy vision, design projects with Vice President Maia Eliscovich ’16, ensure that projects are executed efficiently and manage all logistics and communications within the organization. For many key initiatives, I engage in preliminary discussions, analyze survey data, edit the final reports and help position YCC for conversations with administrators.
The day I am elected, I will hit the ground running. I know how to preserve last year’s gains and push for reform the right way, and in the right places.
Building on the experience I bring to the table, the YCC will ramp up four ongoing initiatives. We will expand resources for cultural houses, cultural groups and institutions like the LGBT Co-op and the Women’s Center. We will push forward key reforms to withdrawal and readmission policy and improve general accessibility, feedback channels and quality control measures for mental health and counseling. We will aggressively advocate for financial aid reform, with a focus on the reduction and eventual elimination of the student contribution. We will demand a comprehensive shift in sexual assault policy and the operations of the University-Wide Committee on Sexual Misconduct. These fights have not received enough attention from the YCC, the Yale administration and the student body in recent years; Yalies deserve to see progress.
In addition to these ongoing initiatives, I hope to tackle a broad spectrum of new projects, ranging from the inclusion of student athletes on the Spring Fling Committee to dining services reform to a reevaluation of the distributional requirements. I recognize that this platform is ambitious, but I am confident that my team will have the drive and experience to deliver.
But the role of student government extends beyond policy initiatives. My administration will empower students to champion their causes through student government. YCC has the ability to assertively advocate for change before administrators and the Yale Corporation. While previous YCCs have produced well-researched and well-reasoned reports, the top leadership has not adequately mobilized the students who are actually affected by unfair policies. It is time to change policy starting at the grassroots level. Task forces, town hall meetings and community-sourced projects empower students to work on specific issues through YCC. They will be central methods of community collaboration for my administration. By drawing on the energy, perspectives and relevant experience of engaged students, I am confident that we can finally achieve meaningful change.
This election is about the ability to deliver on platforms. Let this be the year that we step up as a community of peers, students and friends. Channel your voices through this student government; let YCC be your microphone. Our voices — amplified and in unison — cannot be ignored.
Joe English is a sophomore in Davenport College. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org .