Unlike last year’s Yale College Council elections — which were darkened by allegations and accusations against each of the four presidential candidates — the 2015 election season for YCC president has remained positive and uneventful.
Polls opened Thursday morning at 9 a.m., and the three presidential candidates remain intent on gathering votes. While Andy Hill ’17 has focused on speaking to student organizations, his opponents Joe English ’17 and Ben Martin ’17 have taken a broader approach by trying to reach as many students as possible.
The candidates agree: Throughout the week, they have remained civil toward one another.
“Election week has been definitely more positive than last year,” English said. “It’s nice that all three of us running started out as friends and are still friends because it’s a testament to how positive this campaign season has been.”
The other two presidential candidates expressed similar opinions. Martin said the three candidates’ friendships have set the positive tone for the campaign. Although Hill noted student politics are not always “hugs and happiness,” he likewise cited his friendship with the other candidates as the reason for the clean campaign.
Hill spent this week meeting with representatives from fraternities and sororities to talk about creating an inter-fraternity council. In addition to meeting with leaders from other undergraduate organizations, Hill met with groups of freshmen on Thursday in the Calhoun, Ezra Stiles and Silliman College dining halls to garner support.
“I’ve got the other groups I’m involved with on campus pulling really hard for me as well, including my fraternity and Mock Trial,” Hill said. “It has been a total blast, but I’ll be excited when it’s over and I can get some sleep.”
English and Martin employed similar strategies for the first day of voting. Supported by their campaign staffers, the two have organized photo campaigns and plan to have representatives outside dining halls encouraging undergraduates to vote. The candidates also plan to canvas throughout Old Campus.
Still, these efforts take a toll on the candidates’ personal lives. Martin quipped that the campaign period has been detrimental to his schoolwork. He said he had to complete two problem sets last night, leaving only a few hours to sleep before class.
“It’s a great experience to run a campaign team and be scrutinized by the media, but not so positive on my grades,” Martin said. “I have a problem set dropping by two percent every hour, so as the campaign goes on, my grades also slowly decrease.”
All three presidential candidates emphasized the importance of students voting. English said student participation will not only help to legitimize the YCC, but it will also, in turn, provide better channels for student discussion with the University administration.
Current YCC President Michael Herbert ’16 said he hopes this campaign’s positivity does not lead to a drop in voter turnout. Of nine students interviewed, four said they are unaware of who the presidential candidates are, also indicating that they do not plan to vote.
“I couldn’t care less [about YCC elections],” Hannah Schmitt ’18 said. “Aside from focusing on what we have in the dining halls, I don’t think the YCC focuses enough on what Yale as an institution is doing in the world overall.”
Nevertheless, all students interviewed agreed that the most important quality of the YCC president is his willingness to respond to the undergraduate body and address student concerns. Lucia Baca ’17 said she does not weigh a candidate’s past experience in the YCC as heavily as his or vision for his term as president. Other students said the YCC has to be more active in influencing Yale’s activities outside of New Haven.
Justin Wang ’17 said he does not personally know any of the candidates and would be making his decision based off of their online platforms and advice from friends. Similarly, Yasmin Kakar ’16 said she looked to see which candidate’s online statement she most agreed with before voting.
Polls officially close on Friday at 9 p.m.