Two buzzwords have dominated this year’s contest for Yale College Council vice president: efficiency and inclusion. Many allege, on the one hand, that the YCC is an unacceptably bureaucratic institution in serious need of reform. At the same time, the events of last semester have caused many to reconsider the YCC’s role in supporting student groups and mediating student activism. Every candidate has vowed to reach out to the cultural centers in one way or another; several have made ameliorating Yale’s sexual climate a priority.
Both objectives — bureaucratic efficacy and increased representation of student groups — are noble goals. But each trades off against the other. Creating new infrastructure to accommodate the voices of student groups poses significant threats to internal efficiency and rapid decision-making. The more voices there are competing in a room, the longer it takes to reach a practical policy consensus.
We believe Kevin Sullivan ’18 is the best candidate to navigate this tension.
In his endorsement interview with the News, Sullivan had the most succinct and accurate description of the vice president’s role in the YCC: “The YCC president is president of the student body; the vice president is the president of the council.” Sullivan’s platform reflects a strong understanding of the duties and responsibilities unique to the office of VP, prioritizing concrete internal reforms over grandiose pledges. When we asked why he didn’t address sexual climate in his platform, Sullivan responded — accurately — that the VP’s job is to keep council meetings running smoothly, not to set policy agenda. To this end, Sullivan has promised to implement several structural improvements to the YCC’s existing procedures: He will allow YCC representatives to meet without approval from the executive board; he plans to delay voting on YCC resolutions until one week after they have been proposed, allowing representatives more time to process the information and solicit feedback from their constituents.
Sullivan also wants to delegate YCC representatives to serve as liaisons to all of the cultural houses, but opposes Christopher Bowman’s ’18 proposal to create a new position on the executive board dedicated exclusively to outreach. This approach strikes us as sensible and prudent. Rather than instituting entirely new offices within the YCC, Sullivan will decentralize outreach and allow representatives to do their jobs unencumbered by red tape. Other candidates made similar overtures to affinity groups, but theirs were overambitious and impractical. Zach Wilson ’18, for example, conceded in endorsement meetings that his plans would involve the creation of more task forces and committees. Instead of offering structural emendations to the YCC that would make it easier to manage these new groups, Wilson simply insisted that the “right leaders in the right places can make this work pretty easily.” We do not find this assertion reassuring, especially considering Wilson’s notable lack of experience as compared with other candidates.
Luis Patino ’18 displays similar naivety about the potential challenges of expanding an already expansive bureaucracy. He touts his proposed “One Yale Project” as an “institutionalized mechanism” to “empower [student] groups to interact with the YCC.” But the project would involve the creation of two separate councils-— a Greek Council and a One World Council— each independent from the YCC and each with its own bylaws and structure. Liaisons from both councils would then be expected to meet and coordinate with YCC representatives on an as-needed basis. We commend Patino’s commitment to amplifying the representation of student groups within the YCC. Still, the implementation of such a proposal could quickly devolve into a bureaucratic nightmare.
Sullivan provides the most feasible recommendations for ensuring both accountability and efficiency. His platform is also best suited to the office of vice president, focusing first and foremost on improving the internal operation of the council. Bowman’s platform, by contrast, is more about vision than administration. His website advertises a detailed list of policy proposals and initiatives, from instituting mandatory diversity training at Camp Yale to facilitating the creation of an interfraternity council. These ideas deserve careful consideration, but the fact remains that they fall well outside the purview of YCC vice president. If Bowman wanted to set the agenda for the YCC, he should have declared his candidacy for a different office.
As vice president of the Sophomore Class Council and head of the Yale Dining Task Force, Sullivan has first-hand experience navigating bureaucracy and improving efficiency. He understands what the position of vice president entails, and has laid out concrete steps to make his vision of the YCC a reality. He earns our enthusiastic endorsement.