It is early evening on a weekday, and I am walking toward the Native American Cultural Center. It is afternoon on a Sunday, and I am meeting with students researching disabilities resources on campus. It is breakfast, and I am sitting across from students worried about the rigor of the computer science curriculum.
These are but a few memories of my three years in the Yale College Council, where I have worked with other students to address the wide range of issues and concerns facing our peers. I’m not writing just to wax poetic about the virtues of the YCC; I’m writing to encourage more diverse participation in this collective project. As YCC president, I meet with students who have wonderful ideas about how to make our campus more welcoming for all students but simultaneously do not feel empowered to join in the YCC in an elected position. I hope my experiences will encourage you to consider running.
Often, my peers ask me the proverbial question: What does the YCC even do? I sometimes give the long answer if they are my friends and are obligated to hear me out. And I sometimes just give a shorter sound byte. But out of all the things I could possibly say, I always reply with my own personal reason for working in student government. The YCC’s role is to engage with different student groups on campus, not just the majority population or the most vocal population. Throughout my years in student government, I have connected with different student communities at Yale that want to bring challenges and concerns to administrators but are unsure as to how. And I wanted to meet even more students whose challenges need to be heard. Whether it is a student who cannot afford art class expenses or a student who feels removed from the undergraduate community because of their transfer student status, I wanted to meet my peers and make sure that the YCC understands how to improve the undergraduate experience for all.
There are many ways for us to help build a community on campus, whether it is simply starting conversations with students we have never met or working to bring change to the financial aid policy at Yale. The YCC has the unique opportunity to build a community by responding to conversations we have with our peers to advocate for policy proposals based on those thoughts. In addition, because the YCC has built strong connections with many administrators over the years, we can act as a sturdy liaison between students and University governance.
All of us have found or will find something at Yale that makes us appreciate our time here. However, I also know that many of our peers face obstacles in their undergraduate experience that the YCC can work to remove. When more of us on campus spend more time on academics and extracurricular activities and less time facing barriers and challenges, our community will be stronger and more robust. The YCC works toward removing barriers to student happiness, which is one of the most fulfilling parts of my job. It is amazing that, as students ourselves, we can support our peers in such a direct and policy-grounded way.
I have had an amazing year as the president of the YCC, meeting with student groups, enacting policy change and working with my dedicated teammates. Although I still have a month left in this position, I wanted to take this election season to encourage students who might be on the fence to consider running for a YCC position. Whether you choose to run for an Executive Board position or for a residential college representative, I hope you do in fact choose to run. And I hope you heavily consider joining to strengthen our undergraduate community. I wonder how much more robust our undergraduate community could be if we were to work together across different student communities to slowly resolve different issues and concerns. To register to run for the YCC or if you have any questions, please email our vice president Christopher Bowman ’18 at email@example.com. This is our campus; let’s make it great.
Peter Huang is a junior in Silliman College. He is the president of the Yale College Council. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org .