If elected, Ben Martin ’17 promises to “fundamentally shift” the focus of the Yale College Council.
Martin, currently serving as the vice president of the Sophomore Class Council, said he will direct the YCC’s attention toward undergraduates by seeking input from student leaders of groups such as fraternities and sororities, cultural centers and sports teams. He plans to better involve these student leaders by presenting major policy proposals to them early in his term and working on fostering personal relationships throughout the year. Gaining widespread student support will go a long way towards increasing the legitimacy and inclusiveness of the YCC, he said, and he is always willing to adapt his platform to better meet student needs.
“Our focus should be on the students and community leaders, not just policy proposals and the administration,” Martin said. “I am proposing an expansion of the role as president, to not only reaching out and being active with the administration but attending more meetings in the Yale community.”
Martin hopes to focus on mental health reform, issues of financial aid, such as the student income contribution, and the cultural centers. A computer science and mathematics major, he also hopes to expand the YCC’s technological profile with a survey app.
Martin, who has been involved in YCC for both of his years on campus, said that while the YCC has made progress on several of these issues, there is still work to be done.
Furthermore, Martin said he will not just turn to short-term initiatives, but also plan ahead for long-term change. For example, many student athletes have expressed frustration that this year, Spring Fling falls on a game day for many of them — one problem Martin hopes to solve in future. But Martin said the issues run a lot deeper than that.
“There’s a divide between athletes and non-athletes,” he said. “I have adapted my platform to put in changes not only to address those [issues] but to make them long-term [solutions].”
Specifically, Martin proposes that the YCC would vote to determine the day of Spring Fling, so that its members could ensure the satisfaction of their constituencies. Further, he proposes that a representative from the Student Athlete College Council should serve as an associate member of the YCC.
Sydney Glover ’17, a member of the softball team, said she supports Martin because he has shown a commitment to and an understanding of student athlete concerns, adding that his ideas for athletes’ involvement in student government are more realistic than those of his competitors.
“Athletes are only a portion of the school, but there are enough of us that having someone focus on us is really nice for a change,” Glover said.
Martin emphasized that he hopes to communicate directly with student groups, such as athletes.
Outside of the YCC, Martin has worked to create the Yale chapter of Moneythink, a national organization that teaches financial literacy to high school upperclassmen. Laura Peng ’16, one of the co-founders of Moneythink, said Martin is an excellent leader not only within the organization, but also when mentoring younger students.
“I’m always impressed by how creative Ben is — we’re given a very standardized curriculum to work with, but he always finds ways to adapt it and get his students involved beyond the written materials,” Peng said. “I’m confident that that’s a very transferable skill when it comes to the president of the YCC.”
Rose Bear Don’t Walk ’16 said Martin’s presidency would provide welcome support from the YCC to the Native American Cultural Center, where she serves as a peer liaison.
“If you’re a president, you have to take into account everybody’s needs,” she said. “I’m not sure that past presidents have done that as much as [Martin] wants to.”