This election is about supporting student advocacy. After a year marked by Yalies fighting for important and necessary progress, our student government cannot offer unmet proposals and half-hearted promises. The Yale College Council must facilitate action that is bold, inclusive and heard. It’s time for the YCC to speak out on the issues that matter.
Our community’s compassion fuels my dedication to create a better Yale experience for those around me. In my mind, student government positions are service roles. From day one, I wanted to find ways that I could serve others, both on campus and throughout New Haven. I became community service chair and freshmen screw chair for the Freshman Class Council, and I joined social justice groups that provide support to local organizations. I spent my whole first year at Yale thinking of ways my classmates could have the best year possible and made many of those ideas a reality.
I currently serve as sophomore class president. I decided to run for this position because it allows me to impact the lives of my classmates most directly and creatively. Everyday we redefine expectations for this organization. Our small budget (less than $2 per sophomore for the entire year) challenged and motivated us. I knew nothing would hold us back if we could effectively advocate for student initiatives to the administration, and that is exactly what we did. Our budget grew to be eight times its original size, we started a new Yale College tradition called “Sophomore Brunch” and I wrote a comprehensive proposal calling on the administration to implement shopping period reforms. I also partnered with the alumni association to launch a new mentorship program that connects past and present Yalies.
Now, I am running for YCC president. This is not about political gain or trendy platforms — my service will never be motivated by the title attached to it. I am running because Yale is for everyone, but there is real work that needs to be done before everyone can say that confidently. Yalies all over campus are already pushing for vital changes. Unite Against Sexual Assault at Yale is leading the fight to create an inclusive, intersectional and respectful sexual climate on campus. Members of all four cultural centers have identified key policy changes that will better support students of color in our community. Students Unite Now has published a detailed report advocating for financial aid reform and the necessary elimination of the student income contribution. If elected, I will appoint leaders from every corner of campus to work directly with the YCC on the issues that matter most to them. I will ensure that these advocates have unprecedented access to the administration, allowing for vital action that reaches our student body.
My platform comes directly from students closest to the issues. I worked with LGBTQ Co-op members to identify new ways to support LGBTQ students. I spoke with Mind Matters to develop concrete recommendations for increasing access to mental health resources. Dwight Hall leaders shared their vision of a collaborative relationship with the YCC on community service initiatives. Students advocating for divestment taught me the importance of having a more transparent Yale Corporation. Athletes explained where Yale falls short in representing them. Fellow students with disabilities helped me outline better accommodations. Together, we will champion these causes through supportive partnerships between the YCC and student groups that are already leading the fight.
But our momentum cannot stop at symbolic proposals. As president, I will eliminate bureaucratic structures within the YCC and streamline the processes by which students communicate with the administration.
For our student government to effectively address campus needs, its leaders should be as diverse as the community we represent. However, in an editorial addressing the importance of electing a female YCC president (“NEWS’ VIEW: We need a female Yale College Council president,” April 6, 2015), the News wrote, “A combined 15 years will pass with only one woman at the helm of our student government.” This should be a shocking and disturbing fact for anyone who cares about gender equality and the diversity of its constituents and works proactively to support them. The next Yale is not an idea for the distant future — it’s time for the Yale we deserve right now.
Sarah Armstrong is a sophomore in Trumbull College. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org .