As we all try to chart our own unique Yale paths, I am sure that we are all aware that the paths we travel on will not always be well-paved roads. Student government should help students better shape their Yale experience by improving academic, University services and student-life resources.
To provide the best support to students, student government should be well-connected with the different student groups on campus. Because student groups are niches of student interests, to thoroughly understand the views of different student groups is to understand the issues on campus that students care about.
Through my two years of student government experience at Yale, I have emphasized communicating and collaborating with a variety of student groups outside of the student government.
In my first year of student government at Yale, I acted as the first semester chair of the Freshman Class Council, leading the group on new initiatives such as emphasizing community service. I am currently a Yale College Council representative. For projects I have taken charge of, such as distributional credit research or major offerings review, I focused on gaining the perspectives of a diverse spectrum of student groups, from the Yale Undergraduate Aerospace Association to the International Students Organization.
As a project manager in the YCC Events Committee, I am in charge of “Reality Checks,” an initiative that offers real-life skills workshops. I have worked with various groups on campus such as the Student Wellness Center, the Office of Career Strategy, Yale Undergraduate Mindfulness Education Initiative and YMindful to enhance the education we receive while at Yale.
Outside of student government, I am the intercultural liaison for the Asian American Students Alliance and a member of the Asian American Studies Task Force, and I work to improve communication between the members from all the cultural centers.
My focus on student government has been and always will be toward student groups and working with them to address common campus issues. I see the mission of the YCC as twofold. First, the YCC should address macro-level campus issues, including but not limited to the reduction and elimination of the student income contribution and the increase in the number of on-campus student jobs. Second, the YCC should support student groups, for example, working to bring transfer students more into the Yale community.
Past YCC representatives have spoken with student groups, but I plan to go beyond simply asking them for their feedback. Student government should actively work with student groups on all campus initiatives. I plan to work with the cultural groups to hold the University accountable for faculty diversity on campus. YCC will conduct a comprehensive survey with the Faculty of Arts and Sciences and then release the results so that Yale students can understand exactly how each department is approaching faculty diversity. Based on student feedback, the YCC will then work with cultural groups to establish steps for solving faculty hiring and retention problems.
I will fight to increase the number of campus student jobs in different departments of the University. One such department is the Financial Aid Office, which can hire students to organize newsletters and information packets that the office sends to both current students and prefrosh. I will push for increased program funding for Freshman Scholars at Yale and the Cultural Connections program.
To push for the reduction and elimination of the student income contribution, I will work with student organizations such as Students Unite Now to approach the Office of the Provost to understand the exact fiscal impact of the reduction and elimination of the SIC on the University budget.
Student government will work with students with disabilities to understand the exact needs of students and the shortcomings of University resources. To continue to improve the campus sexual climate, I want to work with the Women’s Center to increase the frequency and reach of the Women’s Center programming. I promise to work with the LGBTQ Co-op to continue to understand and address the challenges faced by non-cisgender and non-heterosexual students on campus.
This is without a doubt an ambitious list of goals for student government, but it is an ambition grounded in the wealth of Yale student groups.
I want to help enact policies and improve campus resources for the sake of the Yalies here on campus right now and for the sake of the Yalies who come after us. Let us work together to ensure that we make not only concrete but also lasting improvements.
Peter Huang is a sophomore in Silliman College. Contact him at email@example.com .