This year has been one of powerful conversations. Next year needs to be one of transformative change.
The Yale College Council is tasked with channeling the energies, aspirations and frustrations of the student body into concrete change. This year, these energies, aspirations and frustrations have been charged, vivid and clear. Yale students do not all have the same access to the Yale experience. And even though I have not personally experienced the pain and frustration felt by marginalized groups on campus, the conversations last fall stirred in me a will to speak up and be an ally.
We want to go to a Yale where there is equity: a Yale that belongs to everyone equally, supports everyone equally and respects everyone equally. We want to go to a Yale where there is accountability: where student voices are heard and respected by the YCC, administrators and the Yale Corporation.
Achieving this Yale will take sustained engagement from all of us, as well as a YCC president who is no stranger to advocacy, who listens to all campus communities before he or she speaks and who has a record of achieving results. I will unite the YCC around the agenda of the student body, so that students are both connected to and genuinely heard by it.
Last year, I served as president of the Freshman Class Council, where I led a team that compiled a policy report on the freshman experience and planned memorable events like the Freshman Dance and Freshman Olympics. This year, as academic policy director of the YCC, I managed a dozen policy projects and advocated directly to Dean Jonathan Holloway for reforms to Credit/D/Fail deadlines, as well as urged academic deans to put ethnic studies on the administrative agenda. I engaged the student body in every project I managed by meeting with student-athletes, STEM students and advocates for Latinx and Asian American Studies so that I could best hear and understand others’ experiences.
Student government shouldn’t be about writing reports that are never acted upon or professing to care about an issue for which one has done little work. At least, that’s not what student government is to me. Instead, it’s about dedicated, persistent advocacy on behalf of our peers. I’m no stranger to advocacy. I’m no stranger to engaging students. And I’m no stranger to speaking to administrators about the issues that matter most. As YCC president, I will reshape our agenda to mirror the energies, aspirations and frustrations of the student body.
That means prioritizing issues of equity. I want to go to a Yale where we expand ethnic studies, robustly support the cultural centers and achieve successful implementation of last fall’s reforms for racial equity. I want to go to a Yale where we achieve a positive sexual climate by increasing resources for undergraduates in the Title IX Office, improving enforcement of no-contact orders and clarifying the informal complaint process. I want to go to a Yale where we continue to advocate for an elimination of the student income contribution and a removal of limits on paid work hours per week. And I want to go to a Yale with an LGBTQ student center, more mental health counselors of color and improved accessibility to University buildings for students with physical disabilities.
As president, I will also prioritize sustainability: it is time for Yale to designate sustainability as one of its development objectives and reinstate the Climate and Energy Institute. I will prioritize our relationship with New Haven and the University’s support for public service: Dwight Hall should be more robustly supported financially by Yale, fellowships that sponsor Yalies’ work in the city should grow and the Office of Career Strategy should allocate more resources to support students entering public service careers.
You can read more about these ideas — the concrete reforms I believe Yale should implement, and the specific actions I know YCC has the power to take — at my website, josh4ycc.com.
I have a bold vision for the YCC, but it’s concrete. I know both the limits and the promise of the YCC, as I helped set its policy agenda this year. Yale is my home. It’s our home. I’ve spent time listening to the experiences of our peers this year, and these conversations have shaped my platform. There’s more work left to do to make sure that everyone has the same access to the Yale experience. If I’m elected to do that work, the YCC will not relent. We’ll fight — persistently and vocally — for a Yale that is equitable and accountable.
Josh Hochman is a sophomore in Berkeley College. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org .